Life trajectories of radical right wing party candidates

In this project we analyze a population of 55,000 candidates who run for municipal level elections in Sweden in 2014 and we seek to explain what type of party they run for with reference to two types of life trajectories: individual-level employment histories and neighborhood-level residential histories during the years 1992–2012.

Ballot paper from the European parliamentary elections 2009
Image by Bengt Nyman on Flickr CC BY 2.0

In this project we analyze a population of 55,000 candidates who run for municipal level elections in Sweden in 2014 and we seek to explain what type of party they run for with reference to two types of life trajectories: individual-level employment histories and neighborhood-level residential histories during the years 1992–2012.

The surge of radical right-wing politics in many Western European countries has been explained with reference to some individuals being the “losers” in the modernization process and with reference to increased ethnic competition. In this project, we examine whether the same type of factors explain party candidacy. The modernization-losers thesis implies that candidates for the radical right have more experiences of economic precariousness, and we examine whether candidates for radical right-wing parties have life trajectories that differ from those of candidates for older and more established parties. We thus look at the candidates’ life trajectories in terms of economic states such as being employed, underemployed, unemployed, or out of the labor market. We also test the relevance of the ethnic competition hypothesis for party candidacy by examining whether candidates for radical right-wing parties are more likely to be from areas with many immigrants and are more likely to have socio-economic characteristics suggesting that they were vulnerable for competition from immigrants (lower-educated, unskilled, and male). We study the neighborhoods where the candidates have resided, particularly their ethnic composition and level of economic deprivation.

One novel feature of our approach is that we use sequence analysis (SA) for creating summaries of candidates’ employment and residential trajectories. An analysis of states that unfold in time provides a richer context than a single state measured at one point in time can do. Furthermore, instead of assigning trajectories into some pre-defined categories, our approach allows us to detect underlying patterns in the observed data using cluster analysis for pairwise sequence dissimilarities.

Examples of questions we will address in this project include:

  1.  How do the neighborhood trajectories of the radical right-wing party candidates differ from that of the other candidates in terms of economic deprivation and share of foreign-born residents?
  2. Are the candidates for radical right-wing parties more likely than candidates for other parties to have been exposed to economic precariousness during their employment careers
  3. Based on individual and neighborhood level trajectories, which older mainstream parties have candidates that most resemble those of a radical right-wing party?

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