ABSTRACT

While public campaign financing is often thought of as a way to “level the playing field” of elections, I argue that such policies may have unintended second-order consequences. Namely, that increasing the degree to which public funding drives political campaigns disproportionately aids radical-right parties. This is a counterintuitive result, as public financing of elections has recently become an important issue for those on the political left as a method to restore power to the majority. Rather, it seems to aid not only those on the right, but those on the political fringe. Through a cross-national analysis of 328 lower-house elections in 20 advanced democracies, I demonstrate that public financing serves to significantly increase vote-share of the radical-right.