Backlash in Policy Attitudes after the Election of Extreme Political Parties

50 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2015

See all articles by Magnus Carlsson

Magnus Carlsson

University of Kalmar

Gordon B. Dahl

UC San Diego - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); University of Rochester - Department of Economics

Dan-Olof Rooth

University of Kalmar; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 2015

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

Carlsson, Magnus and Dahl, Gordon B. and Rooth, Dan-Olof, Backlash in Policy Attitudes after the Election of Extreme Political Parties (April 2015). NBER Working Paper No. w21062, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2590225

Magnus Carlsson (Contact Author)

University of Kalmar ( email )

Sweden

Gordon B. Dahl

UC San Diego - Department of Economics ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Mail Code 0502
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United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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University of Rochester - Department of Economics

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Rochester, NY 14627
United States

Dan-Olof Rooth

University of Kalmar ( email )

Sweden

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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