Democracy and discontent: Institutional trust and evaluations of system performance among core and peripheral far right voters



This article contributes to the debate about democratic discontent and far right party support taking into account the heterogeneity of the far right voter pool. Distinguishing between peripheral far right voters driven by discontent, and core far right voters driven by nationalism, we argue that citizens’ evaluations of the democratic process are associated with their electoral behaviour; but this relationship varies depending on their immigration attitudes. Using data from 9 waves of the European Social Survey (2002-2018), we confirm that whereas among the general population positive evaluations of the democratic process may serve as a deterrent for far right party support, the same assessments are unlikely to deter the far right’s core ideological voters. In some circumstances, they might have a galvanising effect, prompting a backlash among some core voters. Our findings add nuance to voting behaviour theories, and illustrate why scholars should pay more attention to far right intra-partisan heterogeneity.

External deposit with Harvard Dataverse.
Date made available2 Jul 2023
PublisherHarvard Dataverse

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