Employment fears may explain rise of extremist parties across Europe

Fears over job security and quality of work for a new class of disaffected citizens – the ‘precariat’ – could explain the rise of popular extremist parties across Europe, according to a new study. Studying the 2017 national elections in France and the Netherlands, researchers discovered a link between electoral support for radical populist parties of both the right and left and ‘precarity’ – a lack of economic security and stable occupational identities.

The rise of popular extremist parties across Europe may be explained by exonomic insecurities

Precarity also dissuaded this new class of citizens – people who felt ‘left behind’ and the insecure ‘squeezed middle’ facing declining work and living conditions – from voting for traditional parties in both countries. The state of precarity is associated with voting for radical populist parties, such as the Front National, in France, and Partij voor de Vrijheid, in the Netherlands, as well as radical left parties – for example, La France insoumise and the Socialistische Partij (Netherlands).

Led by experts at the University of Birmingham, the international research team published its findings in Sociological Research Online – outlining how they measured precarity using new contributory factors such as autonomy at work, satisfaction with job advancement, work-life balance, and cognitive employment insecurity.

Researchers found two main factors that drive precarity: ‘precarity at work’ grouping items about subjective insecurity in working conditions; and ‘precarity of tenure’ which measures job insecurity. Study lead Dr. Lorenza Antonucci, Associate Professor at the University of Birmingham, commented: “We found that the policy trend of flexibilisation – and the related declining quality of work experienced by workers in France and the Netherlands – has political effects.

“Radical populist parties exploit the insecurity felt by people who make up the ‘precariat’, with parties on the left proposing an anti-austerity solution to labour market insecurity and those on the right promoting a form of chauvinist labour market protection for citizens.

“Precarity of work conditions could also potentially explain populist voting in other European countries.”

The study highlights ‘precarity of tenure’ concerns such as fear of dismissal, worries about not working hard enough and reductions in working hours. ‘Precarity at work’ issues include not being paid for missing a day’s work, lack of career advancement opportunities, work-life balance concerns, and unfulfilled salary expectations.

The researchers found that precarity at work increased the likelihood of people voting of voting for both the radical populist right and the radical left by a factor of two to three in both France and the Netherlands.

Precarity of tenure increases the odds of voters choosing the radical right in particular – an effect that is particularly pronounced in France, where likelihood of voting for the radical right is raised by a factor of 7.5.

“Since 2016, scholars have been discussing the economic and cultural origins behind the so-called ‘Brexit effect’ – the rise of populist and radical voting in Europe,” added Dr. Antonucci. “We have shown that precarity, in particular the subjective insecurity of work conditions, can explain voting patterns.”

Researchers are now building on the study’s findings through the PRECEDE project – a consortium backed by €1 million funding from Volkswagen.

Source: University of Birmingham


European Higher Education Organization

European Higher Education Organization is a public organization carrying out academic, educational and information activities on higher education in Europe. The EHEO general plan stresses that: Higher education systems require adequate funding and, as an investment in economic growth, public spending in higher education should be protected. The challenges faced by higher education require more flexible governance and funding systems, which balance greater autonomy for education institutions with accountability to stakeholders. Thus, EHEO plans: improve academic and scientific interaction of universities; protect the interests of universities; interact more closely with public authorities of European countries; popularize European higher education in the world; develop academic mobility; seek funding for European universities.

Leave a Reply

Next Post

We offer an engineering knowledge programme, which is unique in Europe

Thu Feb 3 , 2022
There are twenty applicants for each place in the integrated smart systems engineering programme implemented under the Erasmus Mundus programme with BME’s engagement. “Our unique master’s programme, which involves three European universities, including BME, trains engineers to design and develop smart systems integrated solutions,” Ferenc Ender, associate professor at the Department […]