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Discussion Paper Details

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Title: Right Wing Political Extremism in the Great Depression

Author(s): Alan de Bromhead, Barry Eichengreen and Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke

Publication Date: February 2012

Keyword(s): Great Depression, political extremism and voting

Programme Area(s): International Macroeconomics and Public Economics

Abstract: We examine the impact of the Great Depression on the share of votes for right-wing anti-system parties in elections in the 1920s and 1930s. We confirm the existence of a link between political extremism and economic hard times as captured by growth or contraction of the economy. What mattered was not simply growth at the time of the election but cumulative growth performance. But the effect of the Depression on support for right-wing anti-system parties was not equally powerful under all economic, political and social circumstances. It was greatest in countries with relatively short histories of democracy, with existing extremist parties, and with electoral systems that created low hurdles to parliamentary representation. Above all, it was greatest where depressed economic conditions were allowed to persist.

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Bibliographic Reference

de Bromhead, A, Eichengreen, B and O'Rourke, K. 2012. 'Right Wing Political Extremism in the Great Depression'. London, Centre for Economic Policy Research. https://cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=8876