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Social Integration and Right-Wing Populist Voting in Germany

In: Analyse & Kritik 42 (2), S. 369–398. DOI: 10.1515/auk-2020-0015.


Patrick Sachweh


Electoral support for right-wing populist parties is typically explainedeither by economic deprivation or cultural grievances. Attempting to bring eco-nomic and cultural explanations together, recent approaches have suggested toconceptualize right-wing populist support as a problem of social integration. Ap-plying this perspective to the German case, this article investigates whether weaksubjective social integration—or subjective social marginalization, respectively—isassociated with the intention to vote for the AfD. Furthermore, it asks whetherthe strength of this association varies across income groups. Based on originalsurvey data from 2017, the results show that indicators of weak subjective socialintegration—feeling socially excluded, being anxious about one’s status, and dis-trusting others—increase the likelihood of voting for the AfD. Moreover, weaksubjective social integration increases right-wing party support particularly amongthe middle-class. Thus, next to fears of downward mobility, feelings of subjec-tive social marginalization emerge as a pathway to right-wing populism for themiddle-class.

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