Backlash against “identity politics”: far right success and mainstream party attention to identity groups

Far right parties often attack efforts to promote equality for historically marginalized groups like women, ethnic minorities, and LGBTQIA+ people, suggesting that “identity politics” takes away valuable resources from native working class populations. Do mainstream parties respond to far right challenges by shifting which groups in society they give attention to? Our main argument is that mainstream parties facing a rising far right party accommodate by de-emphasizing historically marginalized identity groups and emphasizing the working class. Using a mixed methods approach, we demonstrate that mainstream parties threatened by the far right shift positive attention away from non-economic identity groups and towards the working class. Their response is conditioned by party ideology (Social Democratic parties driving the decline) and electoral fortunes. Qualitative evidence from Denmark and Sweden sheds light on how far right party growth is shifting the content of manifestos: we find that mainstream parties threatened by the far right increasingly sideline ascriptive identity-related issues. When they do give attention to identity groups like women, it is often to promote nativist, anti-immigrant agendas.

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License CC BY-NC-ND
Type Journal Articles
C-ID POLS 130 - Comparative