Explaining the rise of the far right in Europe: Economic Insecurity, Cultural backlash and the role of social policies

Explaining the rise of the far right in Europe: Economic Insecurity, Cultural backlash and the role of social policies

Tuesday, 9 October 2018 - 5:00pm to 7:00pm
Venue: 
Seminar Room, European Studies Centre, 70 Woodstock Road, Oxford, OX2 6HR
Speaker(s): 
Dr Tim Vlandas (St Antony's, Oxford)
Chair: 
Dr Hartmut Mayer (Director, European Studies Centre, St Antony's, Oxford)
Series: 
ESC Core Seminar Series

Explaining the rise of the far right in Europe: Economic Insecurity, Cultural backlash and the role of social policies.

Far right parties are on the rise across Europe. Their shared populist rhetoric, emphasis on sovereignty and policies that promote a ‘national preference’ has facilitated the term ‘the new nationalism’. According to an emerging consensus, this new nationalism is primarily a demand-side phenomenon triggered by cultural grievances, i.e. a cultural backlash, driven by those on the wrong end of a new transnational cleavage. This talk contests the view that the ‘new nationalism’ is a linear and coherent phenomenon best understood as a cultural backlash. In this talk, I argue that economic concerns about immigration, economic insecurity and social policies are needed to explain demand for far right parties. Voters’ economic concerns remain pivotal within the context of the transnational cleavage, which suggests that voting behaviour continues to be structured by two dimensions of contestation. The extent to which individuals facing certain social risks vote for the far right depends crucially on the generosity of welfare state institutions. On the supply side, far right parties have been able to capitalise on this demand by proposing welfare chauvinist policies, in contrast to their earlier emphasis on market liberalism. As left leaning parties have in many countries reduced their promotion of certain social policies, far right parties have attracted a rising share of the economically insecure parts of the electorate, especially when they have programmatically or rhetorically moved away from their more extremist roots and emphasised a civic rather than ethnic form of nationalism.

Dr Tim Vlandas (PhD, LSE) is Associate Professor of Comparative Social Policy and a governing board fellow of St Antony’s College at Oxford University. He is also a visiting fellow in the European Institute at the London School of Economics (LSE) and one of the convenors of the political economy and welfare state standing group of the European Consortium of Political Research. He is interested in the relationship between electoral politics, public policies and economic outcomes. Recent projects have focused on the determinants of labour market policies and inequality, the politics of macroeconomic policy, and the impact of welfare state policies on far-right party support. His research has been published in Comparative Political Studies, the Socio-Economic Review, the Journal of Common Market Studies, Politics&Society, the Journal of European Social Policy, French Politics, the European Journal of Industrial Relation, Political Science Research and Methods and Comparative European Politics. He was awarded a best doctoral research prize by the European Network for Social Policy Analysis, a best research output prize by the University of Reading and a best paper on European Politics award by the American Political Science Association. He is currently finishing a book on Sovereign Wealth Funds (joint with Mark Thatcher, under contract with Oxford University Press).

Please email: european.studies@sant.ox.ac.uk in order to register your attendance.