Who took our Jobs?
Updated: Apr 4, 2019
Working class voters, globalisation and the rise of the Radical Populist Right in the electoral politics of Western Europe.
This paper was a Highly Commended entry in the Politics and International Relations category of the Global Undergraduate Awards, the world's largest pan-discipline academic essay competition hosted annually in Dublin by the Irish government and Google. The full-text can be downloaded from their online library as a PDF here.
(Image Source: Bwag - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38206084)
Whereas Western European party competition was above all a struggle between contenders on the moderate left and right-wing pole of the political spectrum in the first post-war decades, the 1980s witnessed the emergence of a formidable challenge to this order in the shape of the Radical Populist Right. Breaking the duopoly of mainstream rivals in some countries, this striking electoral development has inspired a wealth of scholarship on the causal underpinnings of their recent ascent. We attempt to contribute to such understanding by engaging critically with two broad strands of existing literature, considering research which emphasises the role of macro-structural factors like Globalisation and national party strategies in explaining the rise of the Radical Populist Right in turn. We hereby find that both perspectives offer complimentary insights which support the claim that these parties are increasingly successful “because the mainstream parties have forgotten about the white working class”.