Centre for Democratic Engagement: Take the Streets or Take the Parliament? Political Participation Choices for Radical Left (Non-)voters

Dr Svenja Krauss from the University of Essex will present the findings of her research project, co-authored with Sarah Wagner (University of Essex).

During the last couple of years, voters across Europe have become increasingly polarized on both ends of the political spectrum. While radical right parties were able to mobilize voters on their salient topics, radical left parties were only sporadically successful. In this paper, we analyse why radical left parties largely fail to benefit from increasing polarization by examining their potential voter base. Based on the literature, the typical radical left voter is characterised by low trust in the government and other state organisations (e.g. police) as well as an increased civic engagement. Hence, they should have a lower incentive to participate in elections in order to change the status quo. Rather, they should engage in status-quo-busting grassroots activities. We therefore hypothesize that radical left voters are more likely to choose other forms of political participation (i.e. boycotts and demonstrations) instead of taking part in elections. Our hypothesis is put to an empirical test by relying on data provided by the European Social Survey. We include respondents from twelve Western European countries from the latest round of the ESS (Round 9). The results have important implications for our understanding of the demand side of the populist wave.

This event will take place within the Centre for Democratic Engagement MS Team.

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