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Radical right parties and their welfare state stances - not so blurry after all?


Enggist, Matthias; Pinggera, Michael (2020). Radical right parties and their welfare state stances - not so blurry after all? In: Swiss Political Science Association. Annual Meeting, Luzern, 3 February 2020 - 4 February 2020, 1-33.

Abstract

Recent findings from the party competition literature have shown that radical right parties present inconclusive economic stances. Since their constituency is divided with regard to their economic preferences, taking centrist positions or even remaining blurry are promising strategies to prevent them from alienating one or the other part of their electorate. However, in this article we show that they face a divided electorate only with regard to one of the two main conflicts of contemporary welfare politics, namely on questions centring on the preferred size of the welfare state. Contrary, their constituency agrees over whether to prioritize social investment or consumption – thus on the goals, principles and needs the welfare state should meet. Hence, radical right parties are expected to take a clear stance in favour of prioritizing consumptive social policies over social investment. Using data from an original survey to map voters’ preferences as well as party perceptions and a new and fine-grained coding of social policy stances in party manifestos in five Western European countries to assess parties’ position-taking/blurring, we show that radical right parties do blur their position on the general welfare state size dimension. However, they indicate unambiguously what kind of a welfare state they prefer if any: of all party families, the radical right most clearly prioritizes consumptive social policies such as old age pensions, unemployment benefits or healthcare over social investment. Moreover, this clear stance is reflected in voters’ perceptions of where radical right parties stand. Thus, our evidence suggests that radical right parties only blur how much welfare state they want but clearly communicate what they want from the welfare state. These findings have important implications both for party competition and partisan welfare politics.

Abstract

Recent findings from the party competition literature have shown that radical right parties present inconclusive economic stances. Since their constituency is divided with regard to their economic preferences, taking centrist positions or even remaining blurry are promising strategies to prevent them from alienating one or the other part of their electorate. However, in this article we show that they face a divided electorate only with regard to one of the two main conflicts of contemporary welfare politics, namely on questions centring on the preferred size of the welfare state. Contrary, their constituency agrees over whether to prioritize social investment or consumption – thus on the goals, principles and needs the welfare state should meet. Hence, radical right parties are expected to take a clear stance in favour of prioritizing consumptive social policies over social investment. Using data from an original survey to map voters’ preferences as well as party perceptions and a new and fine-grained coding of social policy stances in party manifestos in five Western European countries to assess parties’ position-taking/blurring, we show that radical right parties do blur their position on the general welfare state size dimension. However, they indicate unambiguously what kind of a welfare state they prefer if any: of all party families, the radical right most clearly prioritizes consumptive social policies such as old age pensions, unemployment benefits or healthcare over social investment. Moreover, this clear stance is reflected in voters’ perceptions of where radical right parties stand. Thus, our evidence suggests that radical right parties only blur how much welfare state they want but clearly communicate what they want from the welfare state. These findings have important implications both for party competition and partisan welfare politics.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper), not_refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Political Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:320 Political science
Language:English
Event End Date:4 February 2020
Deposited On:28 Dec 2020 14:49
Last Modified:28 Dec 2020 20:30
OA Status:Green
Related URLs:https://www.unilu.ch/agenda/alle-veranstaltungen/swiss-political-science-association-annual-conference-2020-4943/ (Organisation)
https://www.svpw-assp.ch/annual-congress/ (Organisation)

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