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Backlash in Policy Attitudes After the Election of Extreme Political Parties

Author

Listed:
  • Magnus Carlsson
  • Gordon B. Dahl
  • Dan-Olof Rooth

Abstract

Far-right and far-left parties by definition occupy the fringes of politics, with policy proposals outside the mainstream. This paper asks how public attitudes about such policies respond once an extreme party increases their political representation at the local level. We study attitudes towards the signature policies of two parties in Sweden, one from the far right and one from the far left, using panel data from 290 municipal election districts. To identify causal effects, we compare otherwise similar elections where a party either barely wins or loses an additional seat. We estimate that a one seat increase for the far-right, anti-immigration party decreases negative attitudes towards immigration by 1.8 or 4.1 percentage points (depending on which national survey we use). Likewise, when a far-left, anti-capitalist party politician gets elected, opposition to a six hour workday rises by 2.5 percentage points. These changes are contrary to the two parties’ policy positions. Exploring possible mechanisms, we find evidence for higher politician turnover and a rise in negative newspaper coverage for the anti-immigration party. These findings demonstrate that political representation can cause an attitudinal backlash as fringe parties and their ideas are placed under closer scrutiny.

Suggested Citation

  • Magnus Carlsson & Gordon B. Dahl & Dan-Olof Rooth, 2015. "Backlash in Policy Attitudes After the Election of Extreme Political Parties," NBER Working Papers 21062, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:21062
    Note: LS PE POL
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    Cited by:

    1. Freddi, Eleonora, 2017. "Do People Avoid Morally Relevant Information? Evidence from the Refugee Crisis," Other publications TiSEM ee7c017f-1996-47d3-9d73-2, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    2. Chen, Daniel L. & Levonyan, Vardges & Yeh, Susan, 2016. "Policies Affect Preferences: Evidence from Random Variation in Abortion Jurisprudence," IAST Working Papers 16-58, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse (IAST).
    3. Yann Algan & Quoc-Anh Do & Nicolò Dalvit & Alexis Le Chapelain & Yves Zenou, 2015. "How Social Networks Shape Our Beliefs: A Natural Experiment among Future French Politicians," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/78vacv4udu9, Sciences Po.
    4. Carlsson, Magnus & Fumarco, Luca & Rooth, Dan-Olof, 2018. "Does Labor Market Tightness Affect Ethnic Discrimination in Hiring?," IZA Discussion Papers 11285, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty
    • L82 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Entertainment; Media

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