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Catherine de Vries (Bocconi University)

25 November 2021 @ 14:00 - 15:30


  • Past event


25 November 2021
14:00 - 15:30
Event Category:
Academic Events

“Politics of Isolation: Populist Radical Right Support in Rural Italy”


Abstract: Electoral support for populist radical right parties is usually higher in rural areas compared to urban ones. Yet, the mechanisms driving these geographical patterns are rather poorly understood. By focussing on Italy and relying on an integrative multi-method design, we develop an argument based on local variation in the provision of public goods. Specifically, we suggest that low supply and accessibility of local public services feed into people’s feelings of abandonment by the state, a sentiment that populist radical right parties successfully harness to grow their support. We empirically substantiate our argument in three specific steps. First, we introduce a fine-grained measure of local provision of public service and demonstrate that itis strongly associated with geographic variation in populist radical right support. Second, we exploit a national reform, forcing municipalities below a certain population threshold to jointly manage public services, to test the causal link between populist radical right support and local public service provision. Finally, we plan to conduct qualitative fieldwork in selected urban and rural municipalities to explore the mechanism that we propose is driving our results. The focus on local public service provision and the meaning that voters attach to it helps us to make sense of why populist radical right parties succeed in some rural and urban areas and not others.


Joint with Simone Cremaschi and Paula Rettl