Representation or Reprehension? Radical-Right Electoral Competition and Voter Turnout


An important issue in the research on populist and radical parties asks a critical question: are these parties a threat or corrective for democracy? I analyze this issue with specific regard to radical-right parties and political participation. Specifically, I ask whether the inclusion of a radical-right competitor in electoral contests serve to disenchant and demobilize voters. First, through an analysis of election-level data in Europe I demonstrate this indeed appears to be the case: in elections where radical-right parties compete, turnout falls. I then look to survey data and causal mediation analysis to demonstrate why. Findings indicate radical-right electoral competition serves to decrease individuals’ trust in politicians and satisfaction with democracy, which in turn makes them less likely to turnout and vote.


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