The victims of neoliberal globalisation and the rise of the populist vote: a comparative analysis of three recent electoral decisions

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


Recent presidential elections in the US and Austria as well as the referendum on Brexit in the UK delivered victories or near-victories for populist right-wing candidates or agendas. In all three cases, globalisation and European integration were blamed for higher immigration and pressure on public services, deindustrialisation and job losses, and the attack on traditional values by cosmopolitan elites supported by traditional centre parties that have been unable or unwilling to control those processes. While election analysts seek to explain voting behaviour with socio-demographic characteristics of individuals, individual voting preferences also depend on the geographical context in which decisions are made. This article thus examines how long-term, regional structural economic changes, the varying impact of the Great Recession on the rise of and recovery from regional unemployment and current regional economic conditions, such as unemployment and welfare benefit losses, affect regional vote shares. In addition to those economic conditions, we examine the impact of immigration and urban size on populist vote shares. We show that regions with low, but rising immigrant shares, old industrial regions, smaller regions, those whose labour markets were exposed more and recovered less from the Great Recession, and those with high unemployment rates and benefit losses exhibited higher populist vote shares. These results are largely consistent across the three case study countries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73 - 94
JournalCambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 507001 Applied geography
  • 507026 Economic geography


  • INEQ Inequality & Society

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