MMM Workshop September 2023

Do left-wing governments fuel far-right success?

Markus Wagner
Department of Government, University of Vienna

13 Sep 2023, 11:00–11:25

Presentation Slides (PDF)


In the last decades support for the far right has surged in countries all over the world. One of the explanations of this success alludes to voters’ reaction to the policies implemented by mainstream parties, although it is unclear which are more likely to fuel their advance. In this paper we investigate the causal effect of the partisanship of the incumbent government on the electoral results of far-right parties. To do that, we use a threefold empirical strategy, combining cross-country over time comparative data, quasi-experimental RDD evidence in the case of Spain, and individual-level survey data to test the mechanisms behind the main effect.

Overall, our results provide support for the thesis that radical-right success is the result of a backlash against left-wing governments and policies. The implications of these findings are important for democratic politics, as they raise the question of whether mainstream parties can do something to avoid this backlash or, rather, it is an inescapable consequence of how political competition in democracies works.

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Do left-wing governments fuel far-right success?