Democracy in Hard Times: Economic Decline, Social Capital and Resilience Against Far-Right Nationalism
Forthcoming in Journal of Political Institutions and Political Economy
Why do voters in contexts of economic decline increasingly come to support far- right nationalist parties in some places but not in others? We develop a theoretical argument regarding the role of social interconnections in shaping responses to economic insecurity and suggest that social capital can mitigate the effects of adverse economic shocks on cultural backlash. We test our theory by combining individual-level data on voting behavior from the European Social Survey (waves 1-9) with data on economic conditions and memberships in civic organizations at the level of European regions. Our findings reveal that while economic decline strengthens support for far-right nationalist parties where levels of social capital are low, this effect is reversed in areas with high levels of social capital. Results remain robust when we replicate our findings using a proxy for social capital less susceptible to endogeneity: the regional share of non-egalitarian historical family types. Our findings contribute by advancing our understanding of the conditions under which economic decline fails to prompt cultural backlash.
Recommended citation: Amat, Francesc & Emmy Lindstam. (forthcoming): “Democracy in Hard Times: Economic Decline, Social Capital and Resilience against Far-Right Nationalism”. Journal of Political Institutions and Political Economy.
Published in the British Journal of Political Science, 2021
National identities are often conceived of as factors that lend structure and stability to citizens’ political opinions on issues such as immigration. While citizens who define national membership in ethno-cultural terms are less likely to support immigration, those with a civic conception are more likely to do so. The authors propose that defining national identity along both ethno-cultural and civic lines may give rise to conflicting considerations, leading people to experience ambivalence, implying that national identities may serve less as a stabilizing force than suggested by previous research. Findings from heterogeneous choice models and a unique survey experiment show that German citizens with mixed conceptions of national identity had more variable and more malleable opinions than individuals with ideal-type conceptions during the 2015/2016 European refugee crisis. The findings point to an identity-based source of ambivalence and extend current understandings of how people form attitudes towards immigration.
Recommended citation: Lindstam, Emmy; Matthias Mader & Harald Schoen. (2021). “Conceptions of National Identity and Ambivalence towards Immigration”. British Journal of Political Science. 51(1): 93-114.
Published in the Handbook on Decentralization, Devolution and the State, 2021
What explains variation in redistributive efforts within and across democratic countries? We review the literature on the determinants of redistributive efforts, paying particular attention to contributions highlighting the role of income inequality, ethnic diversity, electoral systems and the territorial organization of the state. Despite notable advances in our understanding of when and why governments redistribute, we still know quite little about what explains variation in redistributive efforts across governments with similar institutions, facing similar economic conditions. In the second part of the chapter, we therefore sketch a novel theoretical argument and provide an empirical test, examining how the salience of the centre-periphery conflict dimension affects redistributive outcomes in multiparty PR systems. Drawing on data from 16 parliamentary democracies with proportional electoral systems, we show that where coalition bargaining takes place among political parties in parliament, greater legislative salience of the territorial conflict dimension is associated with a decline in public social spending.
Recommended citation: Amat, Francesc & Emmy Lindstam. (2021). “Redistribution and Equality: The Role of the Territorial Conflict Dimension”. In the Handbook on Decentralization, Devolution and the State. Eds. Ignacio Lago. Edward Elgar Publishing. Cheltenham, UK.
Published in Electoral Studies, 2019
Why do many mainstream party voters switch to voting for niche parties in second-order elections? I develop a simple framework to explain niche party switching in second-order elections and propose that some voters defect strategically to niche parties as a way to signal the salience of an otherwise overlooked issue to their preferred mainstream party. Using panel data from the United Kingdom and Germany, I find that vote switching in second- order elections is more common among those who perceive a mismatch between the party they feel close to and the party perceived as best able to handle an issue of importance to them, as well as when they believe less is at stake and when they place much importance on an overlooked issue.
Recommended citation: Lindstam, Emmy. (2019). “Signalling Issue Salience: Explaining Niche Party Support in Second-Order Elections”. Electoral Studies. 60: 102026