Extreme Right-Wing Voting Behavior; A Case Study on Swedish Immigrant Voters

University essay from Linnéuniversitetet/Institutionen för samhällsstudier (SS)

Abstract: Extreme right-wing political parties and movements are growing in number and size all over Europe and in their tail, an increased political focus on immigration and its pros and cons. Sweden is no exception to the European trend and the Swedish extreme right-wing political party, Sverigedemokraterna, became the third largest political party in the latest elections for the Swedish parliament in 2014. The objective of this study is to contribute to the current debate on rising right-wing party affiliation through an analysis of the reasons for extreme right-wing voting behavior of immigrants in Sweden. Through a case-study based on six in-depth interviews with immigrants voting for Sverigedemokraterna, the study looks into issues regarding social group identification as the issue of identification with or repudiation of the ‘outgroup’ appears, from previously conducted research, to be a key issue. An analysis of policy documents of Sverigedemokraterna, previously conducted research and finally an interview conducted by a Swedish anti-racist organization is also included in the case-study. The study shows that the reasons behind immigrant extreme right-wing voting behavior present substantial similarities with other highly represented groups of extreme right-wing voters in that voting is, in line with Realistic Conflict Theory, encouraged by a perceived socio-economic threat emanating from an identified ‘outgroup’. Further, the study validates the assumption of ‘in-’ and ‘outgroup’ identification as being a key issue in determining motives behind extreme right-wing voting. The key explanatory factor of the voting behavior of the studied group indeed shows to be the rejection of an identification with a homogenous group of ‘immigrants’. Finally, the study shows that the rejection of an identification with a homogenous group of ‘immigrants’, removes the theoretical base for assuming that immigrants should be expected to show favorable attitudes towards the group of immigrants in general.

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