Electoral Results Explained Through Emotion Theory
POLITICAL SCIENCES |

Electoral Results Explained Through Emotion Theory

A STUDY BY CARLO ALTOMONTE FINDS REASONS FOR THE PROTEST VOTE IN SEVERAL EUROPEAN COUNTRIES

There is no consensus on the origin of the protest vote and the rise of Europe’s far right. Some scholars see it in financial crisis and wealth inequalities, others see it in trends such as immigration and the globalization of markets. In Collective Emotions and Protest Vote, Carlo Altomonte, Gloria Gennaro and Francesco Passarelli build a behavioral theory of protest vote.
 
According to their theory, the key element is the increase of relative deprivation, a concept taken from social psychology. It measures the difference between an individual’s income and the income of richer individuals. “The financial crisis and the globalization of markets may not have changed my income level, but seeing my neighbor getting richer and richer may increase my relative deprivation. This fuels my desire to vote for anti-establishment parties that promise change”, Carlo Altomonte says.
 
Parties calling for wealth redistribution are not rewarded, though. The increase in relative deprivation alone cannot explain the phenomenon. According to the Intergroup Emotions Theory, resentment is amplified if the individual identifies with a community experiencing the same feeling of relative deprivation.
The authors tested their theory using data on Great Britain 2010 and 2015 national elections, when the UKIP support rose from 3.1% to 12.6%. The vote share for the UK Independence Party was significantly larger in districts where the identification with the community was higher and the relative deprivation with respect to richer individuals had worsened.
 
“Protest voting is caused by the desire to take revenge against traditional parties. It comes with a cost associated with the protest party’s the possible incompetence and slim chances of success. And yet, the psychological benefit of having acted to protect your community is greater than this cost”.

Read more about this topic:
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Europe Should Opt for Qualified Majority Voting on Taxation Issues
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by Claudio Todesco

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