Sunday, February 26, 2012

Will Austerity Empower the Extreme Right?

Our major interest is the impact of the Depression on voting patterns and hence how voting shares changed after 1929. Our statistical results (see Annex for details) show that that the Depression was good for fascists. It was especially good for fascists in countries that had not enjoyed democracy before 1914; where fascist parties already had a parliamentary base; in countries on the losing side in WWI; and in countries that experienced boundary changes after 1918.
Since Germany ticks each of these boxes and saw a particularly large increase in the fascist vote, one may ask whether these interaction effects are driven by the German experience alone. The answer is that they are not.
Importantly, it shows that what mattered was not the current growth of the economy but cumulative growth or, more to the point, the depth of the cumulative recession. One year of contraction was not enough to significantly boost extremism, in other words, but a depression that persisted for years was.

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