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The backward East? Explaining differences in support for radical right parties in Western and Eastern Europe

Journal of Comparative PoliticsJournal abstract

Radical right political parties in Central Eastern Europe have been far less electorally successful than their counterparts in Western Europe. This outcome contradicts an underlying assumption in scholarly work and public opinion of "the East" at a hotbed of nationalist political movements. This paper uses an original comparative dataset to examine the contextual economic, political, and social determinants of electoral support for radical right parties in 27 Western and Eastern European countries from 1991 to 2012. Support for radical right parties in Eastern Europe hinges on a different set of factors than in the West. The findings show that the commonly cited factors, such as economic development, immigration, and types of electoral institutions, do not explain cross-national differences in electoral support for the radical right or the difference in electoral support between Eastern and Western Europe. Rather, it is political stability and social trust that explain differences between West and East.

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