The Dissatisfied Right:A Micro-Level Analysis of Political Dissatisfaction in Supporters of the Populist Radical Right in Rural East Germany

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Institutionen för globala studier

Abstract: Contemporary election results of the populist radical right (PRR) reveal significant spatial variation of PRR support within countries. To a large extent, this variation is believed to be based on local and regional differences within the PRR’s electorate, which calls for the inclusion of micro-level analyses in our study of the PRR. One acclaimed explanation approach that lacks a micro-level perspective is the concept of political dissatisfaction. Individuals, who are dissatisfied with politicians and politics in general, are found more likely to vote for parties of the populist radical right; however, there is little explanation of what constitutes political dissatisfaction. This thesis adds to an in-depth understanding of political dissatisfaction by capturing and analysing PRR supporters’ personal accounts of political dissatisfaction in the exemplary case of Mansfeld-Südharz, a rural region in east Germany that formed part of the former GDR. Through qualitative semi-structured interviews, five elements of political dissatisfaction could be identified: a sense of longing for past normality, discontent over allocation of public funds, anti-immigratory attitudes, a biased media at the hands of the elite, and hypocritical, ineffective politics at the verge of a loss of democracy. Further, political dissatisfaction was found to culminate in a wider fear for the state of democracy, of which the AfD is perceived as a potential corrective. The results show the relevance of the local context in the emergence of political dissatisfaction while simultaneously offering a new perspective in the analysis of the PRR’s electorate.

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