How do people explain their decision to vote for right-wing populist parties and causes?: Marlene Miglbauer & Veronika Koller

Hochschule Burgendland
Lancaster University

“Right-(and left-)wing populist parties and policies have become quite successful throughout Europe, opening up a vast field for research. The question in the title is the one we are currently investigating; so far, we have analysed the motivation of British, Austrian and German voters. Also, we are asking if and in how far the topics and value judgements of voters reflect the discourse of right-wing populist politicians and campaigners. In our work, we are analyisng ‘the people’s voice’ – spoken voices in vox pops (e.g. interviews with people in shopping streets) and written statements (as in the comments sections of newspapers).

For the world café, we will focus on supporters of the German party Alternative für Deutschland (Alternative for Germany), which won almost 13% in the 2018 General Election. We have analysed more than 500 postings written by AfD voters, which they submitted in answer to the question ‘Why did you vote for the AfD?, asked by the German newspaper Die Zeit on election day. Many voters highlight their background to counter stereotypes about supporters of right-wing parties. Yet, in their argumentation they do refer to populist topics such as migration, Islam, anti-EU feeling and national identity as their motivations to vote AfD. Despite populist reasons and values impacting their voting behaviour though, our analysis shows that voters for right-wing populist parties seem to be more diverse than they used to be.”

– Marlene Miglbauer of Pädagogische Hochschule Burgenland & Veronika Koller of Lancaster University