Economic Losers and Political Winners: Sweden's Radical Right

Ernesto Dal Bó (Berkeley University)
Frederico Finan (Berkeley University)
Olle Folke (Uppsala University)
Torsten Persson (Stockholm University)
Johanna Rickne (Stockholm University)

Abstract: We study the politicians and voters of Sweden's Radical Right. The rise of the Sweden Democrats is descriptively linked to macroeconomic events that magnified job insecurity and stagnated disposable incomes in large segments of the labor market. Negatively impacted groups entered politics to build the Sweden Democrats, and voting for the party concentrated in localities suffering larger impacts. Survey data suggest that economic anxiety may have triggered radical-right mobilization by weakening social and institutional trust among those with anti-immigrant preferences. We characterize the Sweden Democrats as a citizen-candidate movement that channeled inexperienced citizens from negatively impacted groups into politics. The party's entry shifted political selection for soft and hard valence traits in a negative direction.