Spatial variation in populist right voting in Austria, 2013–2017

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The recent wave of populism sweeping Europe and the Americas generated considerable interest among political scientists, economists, sociologists and to some extent, geographers. The vast majority of these studies focuses on individual voter decisions or national comparisons over time but neglects the within-country spatial variation of the populist vote. This paper addresses this shortcoming and applies spatial econometric techniques to explore possible explanations for spatial variation in the increase of the populist right vote between the 2013 and 2017 national elections in Austria for 2118 municipalities. Spatial variation in voting shares can result from (1) compositional effects, regional differences in the composition of voters with different characteristics, (2) broad spatial, historically evolved institutional differences, such as membership to one of the nine states, (3) unequal integration of different types of regions into the global economy, such as peripheral regions, central urban regions, old industrial regions or tourist areas, (4) spatial vote spillovers due to localized social networks, and (5) unobserved spatial processes. We find that the populist right vote gains in Austrian municipalities are affected by all processes, but that the type of regions becomes insignificant once we correct for unobservable spatial structures in the regression framework. The increase in the share of foreigners, the share of foreigners, income and inequality levels, educational differences, selected state membership, as well as spatial spillovers of populist right voting are all important to explain spatial variation in the rise of the populist right vote.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1 - 11
JournalPolitical Geography
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 507001 Applied geography
  • 507026 Economic geography
  • 507

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