Immigration and the diversity it brings have led to the emergence of the “progressive’s dilemma” whereby open societies that take in immigrant outsiders may find it difficult to maintain the solidarity required to sustain the welfare state. In this essay, I address another progressive’s dilemma: Focusing on the case of Western Europe, I argue that when open borders give rise to radical-right parties, immigration can inadvertently also endanger progressive achievements in gender equality. Though xenophobic policies frequently constitute their core message and the primary source of their appeal, radical-right parties are also defenders of traditional family values and outspoken critics of measures that promote the economic and political advancement of women. Moreover, the composition of these parties, both in terms of voters and politicians, is disproportionately male. As a result, when radical-right, anti-immigrant parties enter national parliaments, the descriptive and substantive representation of women suffers, sometimes reversing long-held gains in gender equality.
Politics in advanced democracies used to revolve around class cleavages, with the large centrist parties on the left and the right offering competing visions about redistribution and the size of the welfare state. Over the past several decades, class politics has been supplemented with another, cross-cutting cleavage, one centering around progressive social values and cosmopolitanism on the one hand, and traditional values and ethnocentrism on the other. Political parties on the left have made issues such as gender equality, LGBTQ rights, and open borders critical parts of their platforms, while parties on the right have been more likely to emphasize traditional family values and the cultural threats associated with immigration.1
This restructuring of the political space, along with growing levels of ethnic and cultural diversity, has led to the emergence of the “progressive’s dilemma”: how can open societies that take in immigrant outsiders maintain the solidarity required to sustain the welfare state? Answers to this question constitute an ongoing and unresolved debate.2 What has been overlooked in this debate, however, is that the dilemma is not just about marrying sociocultural diversity with economic redistribution. Increasingly, elements within the progressives’ sociocultural agenda are also clashing.
In this essay, focusing on the case of Western Europe, I argue that immigration not only threatens the sustainability of the welfare state, it can also inadvertently endanger progressive achievements in gender equality via a strengthening radical right. Open borders and the ethnic diversity they generate have in many countries given rise to powerful radical-right parties, with anti-immigration policies and xenophobic rhetoric frequently their core message and the primary source of their appeal.3 But they are also often defenders of traditional family values and outspoken critics of measures that promote the economic and political advancement of women. Moreover, the composition of these parties, both in terms of voters and politicians, is disproportionately male.4 As a result, when radical-right, anti-immigrant parties enter national parliaments, the descriptive and substantive representation of women suffers.
To make these arguments, I present three threats that radical-right parties pose to the advancement of women’s interest and gender equality in politics: 1) the overrepresentation of male-voter interests; 2) the pursuit of policies that promote conservative gender roles and oppose measures to enhance gender equality; and 3) the small number of elected female candidates among radical-right parties. I then address how a more recent rhetorical shift toward gender equality among some radical-right parties does not represent an actual change in policy positioning, but rather serves to discriminate against European Muslims. I conclude with a brief discussion about potential ways out of the progressive’s dilemma surrounding immigration and gender.
Europe has been experiencing large-scale immigration for many decades. In most West European countries, the foreign-born now constitute more than 10 percent of the population. In 2016 alone, two million non-EU citizens migrated to the European Union, while EU countries granted citizenship to one million persons.5 The inflow and settlement of a diverse mix of labor migrants, asylum seekers, and their families have transformed European societies and labor markets, and they have also had significant political ramifications. One of the most salient electoral consequences has been the ascendance of radical-right parties that campaign on fiercely xenophobic platforms. Though an uptick in immigration does not automatically trigger a nativist backlash, the arrival and settlement of large numbers of migrants has been a crucial ingredient in the emergence and growth of contemporary radical-right parties in Europe.6
Relatedly, hostile views toward immigrants distinguish supporters of radical-right parties from the rest of the electorate. Studies based on a wide range of surveys and countries consistently find that ethnocentrism and a desire to reduce the number of immigrants help predict who casts votes for the radical right.7
The rise of the radical right in response to immigration and cosmopolitanism presents a key facet of the much-discussed progressive’s dilemma: the notion that ethnic diversity severs societal bonds of solidarity and weakens leftist political forces, both of which are required to maintain robust welfare states.8 At least two mechanisms can be at work: Some voters’ support for redistribution may decline because they do not want to finance government transfers going to disliked immigrant minorities. By contrast, other voters may still cherish the welfare state, but they first and foremost want to support a party that promises to end immigration, and they therefore cast their lot with radical-right parties. When such parties also want to shrink the welfare state, curbing immigration and maintaining redistribution can become incompatible goals among a significant number of voters.9
Debates about this version of the progressive’s dilemma are ongoing and largely unresolved.10 Yet immigration–if it contributes to the electoral success of radical-right forces–can also bring to the fore a much less widely recognized tension within the progressive camp. Whereas the focus until now has been on trade-offs along two dimensions, pitting economic against sociocultural concerns, immigration and the accompanying growth of the radical right threatens to create dilemmas within the left’s sociocultural agenda: when immigration causes an increase in radical-right parliamentary representation, open border policies can unwittingly undermine gender equality.
When radical-right parties enter parliaments, they can undercut women’s representation in several ways. First, radical-right parties are disproportionately supported by men. While there is disagreement about the causes behind the growth of radical-right parties, the gender gap in radical-right party support has been one of the most durable findings in the literature. It has even earned these parties the label of Männerparteien (parties for or of men).11 As political scientist Cas Mudde has pointed out, gender “is the only sociodemographic variable that is consistently relevant in practically all European countries.”12 Examining the gender gap in twelve West European countries in 2010, social scientist Tim Immerzeel and colleagues found an average gap of 4.3 points, with 11.1 percent of men and 6.8 percent of women supporting radical-right parties.13 In some instances, the difference is much higher, reaching 6.4, 9.0, and 13.3 percentage points in Switzerland, Austria, and Norway, respectively. France is the only country where the gap has narrowed or even closed in some elections.14 However, in none of these countries do female supporters of the radical right outnumber their male counterparts.
In addition to gendered voting patterns, party membership of radical-right parties is also overwhelmingly male. Moreover, women are less likely than men to participate in radical-right politics on the basis of their ideological convictions. Research has found that women who are members of radical-right parties and participate in activist circles are frequently pulled in by the men in their lives –romantic partners, brothers–who are already active in the far-right milieu.15
Existing scholarship has identified a number of reasons for the male bias among the radical-right’s core electorate. Some arguments relate to gendered labor market positions: because men have traditionally been overrepresented in blue-collar, industrial jobs, they are more likely to belong to the “losers of modernization” whose material well-being and social status have been threatened by deindustrialization, offshoring, and immigration. The rise in postmaterial values, gender egalitarianism, and ethnic diversity can compound these threats.16 Men’s newly precarious position can make them susceptible to radical-right parties that promise a return to the old order in which native, White men occupied the top of the economic and social hierarchy.17
A related line of reasoning draws upon gender gaps in authoritarian attitudes. Men tend to take a tougher stance than women toward criminal justice, and radical-right parties commonly link immigration to crime and societal breakdown, vowing to restore law and order via deportation, immigration bans, and more aggressive policing. This issue linkage helps radical-right parties formulate a coherent issue agenda: concerns about crime have been found to be an important predictor of fears over immigration, and large numbers of Europeans believe that immigration contributes to crime.18 It also helps account for gendered radical-right voting patterns.19
Others have argued that while women and men do not differ too much in their degree of anti-immigrant sentiment, women are less likely to accord immigration high salience when it comes time to cast ballots. Gender differences in issue salience, rather than preferences per se, can therefore explain part of the gender gap.20
Irrespective of the causes behind the gender gap, so long as men and women differ in their policy preferences and priorities (and radical-right parties in fact represent the interests of their mostly male core electorate), the rise of radical-right parties effectively reduces the substantive representation of women.21
Second, the rise of the radical right can stall the advancement of feminist causes. Radical-right parties frequently advocate for a return to traditional family values and speak out against policies that aim to promote women’s economic and political advancement. Their emphasis on family values is rooted in part on the importance of motherhood, especially in the context of declining birth rates: for the survival of the (ethnically pure) nation, it is critical that native women prioritize their roles as mothers and caregivers. As a result, radical-right parties have supported tax policies meant to incentivize women to bear more children and to care for them at home. Tax breaks that rise with the number of children or direct compensation for “housewives” are part of their policy arsenal, as are restrictions on women’s reproductive choices.22
Most European radical-right parties recognize that it is increasingly unrealistic for women to remain outside the labor force altogether. In light of these realities, and to broaden their appeal, some have explicitly stated their support for women’s economic independence.23 However, these parties nevertheless want to ensure that native women’s preoccupation with their careers does not replace their desire for childbirth. In fact, raising the fertility of native women is seen as an antidote to immigration. As the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) stated in its 2011 program: “Austria is not a country of immigration. This is why we pursue a family policy centered around births.”24 Similarly, during the 2017 German general election campaign, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) produced a poster prominently displaying the pregnant belly of a (White) woman and featuring the message: “Merkel says we need immigrants. We say: ‘New Germans’? We make those ourselves!”
In line with its traditional conception of gender roles, the radical right typically strongly opposes gender quotas in all realms of society. For example, in its 2017 manifesto, the AfD derides state-sponsored gender quotas as illegitimate, arbitrary, and ultimately unconstitutional, and it campaigns for their repeal.25 The Swiss People’s Party (SVP) similarly rejects all “quota rules and so-called gender-politics” and seeks to abolish all equal opportunity offices (Gleichstellungsbüros).26 Even the SVP’s youth wing vehemently opposes “quota women” (Quotenfrauen), viewing government quotas as tools employed by the lazy and the weak, and by socialist feminists.27
Opposition to quotas also extends to radical-right parties in Scandinavian countries, where gender equality measures have generally been more widely accepted. The Sweden Democrats explicitly reject gender quotas, as does the Danish People’s Party and the Norwegian Progress Party.28 Though these parties usually point out that they believe in the dignity of women and in their equal status before the law, they oppose gender quotas and gender mainstreaming, viewing them as excessive and misguided efforts at equalization (Gleichmacherei). Not only do radical-right parties fear that measures aimed at creating equal opportunities between the sexes hurt their male support bases, but for many, such policies also contravene the “natural” order of things.29
Finally, consistent with their disproportionately male support bases and their suspicion of feminist causes and gender quotas, radical-right parties tend to produce mostly male candidates. I should note at the outset that, compared with other parties, radical-right parties do not seem to be lagging behind with respect to having women in visible leadership positions. Marine Le Pen of the French National Rally, Pia Kjærsgaard of the Danish People’s Party, and Alice Weidel of the Alternative for Germany are among the prominent examples of past and present radical-right women leaders. However, when examining parliamentary seats, men tend to outnumber women by significant margins. The growing strength of radical-right, anti-immigrant parties therefore tends to decrease female representation in parliaments, especially since, where they exist in Europe, candidate gender quotas tend to be voluntarily adopted by parties, rather than mandated by law.30
To assess the magnitude of this development, I collected data on the gender composition of all current West European national parliaments in which radical-right parties have a significant presence: namely, countries where these parties attained a vote share of at least 10 percent in the most recent general election. The results are displayed in Table 1. The gender gaps across party types are substantial. Whereas, on average, just over one-quarter (26 percent) of radical-right parliamentarians are female, this number reaches 40 percent among all other parties. In six out of nine cases, differences reach eighteen points or higher. Germany displays the largest gap: the share of female MPs is twenty-three percentage points lower among radical-right parties when compared with all other parliamentary parties. Switzerland and Sweden are close behind with a gap of twenty-two points.
If the national parliaments listed in Table 1 did not include radical-right parties and kept their overall gender balance unchanged, female descriptive representation would rise by three percentage points overall, ceteris paribus. In Switzerland and Austria, where these parties are both particularly strong (holding 32.5 and 27.9 percent of seats, respectively) and particularly male, the share of women parliamentarians would rise by seven and five points, respectively. In only one case, Denmark, do we observe a positive difference: 41 percent of the seats held by the Danish People’s Party are occupied by women compared with 38 percent among all other parliamentary parties, a case I will return to briefly below.
It is important to note that in some cases, the share of women in radical-right parties does not fall below that observed among more centrist right-wing parties.31 But this fact does not negate the progressive’s dilemma: left parties almost always feature a higher share of women. In cases in which immigration facilitates the rise of the right and the decline of the left, female representation falls.
One of the youngest European radical-right parties, Alternative for Germany, entered the German Bundestag for the first time in 2017, gaining over 12 percent of the vote. It is nearly all male: only 11 percent of the AfD’s ninety-four seats are held by women. The rise of the AfD illustrates the progressive’s dilemma around immigration and gender particularly well. The party owes its rapid ascent first and foremost to the sizable inflow of migrants that entered Germany in the years leading up to the election. Well over one million refugees, many of them from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, arrived in the country, encouraged by Angela Merkel’s liberal stance toward those fleeing violent conflict at home and seeking asylum in Germany. Parties on the left–the Social Democrats, the Greens, and the Left Party –also strongly defended open borders and the right to asylum and continued to do so even when the issue began to fracture the center-right. The AfD succeeded in keeping the immigration issue in the headlines and in mobilizing many voters who wanted to stop the inflow; the desire to reduce the number of immigrants was the most salient issue among voters who cast their ballot for the radical party.32 And, as elsewhere, the majority of these voters were male. Whereas 9 percent of German women voted for the AfD, 15 percent of German men did so.33
Though these gendered voting patterns have been widely recognized, what has been less appreciated is that the entry of the AfD in the German Bundestag helped reverse a long-running trend in the steady rise in the number of parliamentary seats occupied by women. Figure 1 charts the percentage-point change in the share of female Bundestag representatives since the 1960s (left y-axis) and seat shares of radical-right parties (right y-axis) over the same time span. The share of female politicians has been rising since the mid-1970s, reaching its highest value in 2013 (36.5 percent). Though there was a slight dip of one percentage point in 2005, an unprecedented six-percentage-point drop occurred in 2017. This descent coincided with the entry of the AfD: eighty-four AfD men and ten AfD women took seats in the Bundestag. To be sure, these losses in female representation are not just of the AfD’s doing; other parties also featured fewer women than in the previous Bundestag.34 But the entry of an almost exclusively male anti-immigrant party clearly put the brakes on the advancement of women candidates in Germany’s national parliament.
The German example is particularly striking. It illustrates in stark terms the potential trade-off between gender equality in politics and open immigration policies. But developments in other countries suggest that there might be signs of change. Denmark’s anti-immigrant People’s Party was long led by a woman and includes more female than male members of parliament. The Dutch Party for Freedom brands itself a defender of gender equality and notably voted against cuts in public childcare.35 In France, gendered voting patterns among supporters of the National Rally are disappearing. One reason behind this change is the increasing economic insecurity in the female-dominated service sector.36 Another has to do with Marine Le Pen’s targeting of young women. Le Pen, herself twice divorced and having raised three children, acknowledges the challenges of motherhood, especially among single women in precarious economic circumstances. As the party is seeking to capture a younger, more modern, and female electorate, its traditionally strong opposition to abortion–which her party had previously called an “anti-French genocide”–is also weakening.37
Radical-right parties in Denmark, the Netherlands, and France have had a much longer presence in local councils and national parliaments than has the German AfD. Part of their longevity and success can be attributed to their moderation, at least in some aspects of their agenda, which has helped them make inroads among the female electorate.38
Do these developments signal a softening of the progressive’s dilemma? Though these parties have remained stridently anti-immigrant, proposing ever harsher immigration laws and tougher integration requirements, to be durable and successful, they might have to modernize their views on gender relations.
Close observers of these parties would likely be skeptical of this interpretation. The roots of the radical right’s repositioning on gender, critics have alleged, is not to be found in their newfound ideological commitments to gender equality, and neither is it sincere. Rather, where radical-right parties have begun to adopt feminist rhetoric, it has always been in connection to immigration. Specifically, these parties have been campaigning on feminist issues to widen the gulf between Europe’s Muslim communities and the rest of society while simultaneously exposing perceived failures of multiculturalism, one of the left’s blind spots.39
Muslims in Europe, while diverse in origin, religiosity, and cultural backgrounds, tend to subscribe to more patriarchal social norms and traditional family values than does the electorate at-large. As issues pertaining to sexual liberation and feminism have gained more resonance among European voters, they are confronted with an ethnoreligious minority group that is much less supportive of gender equality in the private and public sphere. As a result, even cosmopolitan voters that typically favor liberal immigration policies have become uneasy about the presence of Muslims in European cities.40
Seizing on this tension, radical-right parties have begun to instrumentalize gender equality as a key strategy to differentiate the “modern majority” from the “backwards, patriarchal” minority, with the hopes of peeling away voters from mainstream parties that endorse immigration and multiculturalism.41 Issues of veiling and the “headscarf debates” they spawn have been especially salient among the radical right. Bans on veiling of various forms (in schools, public institutions, or even covering the entire public sphere) frequently feature prominently in their platforms. They allow radical-right parties to appear as backers of gender equality while at the same time communicating that European nation-states cannot accommodate Islam without fundamentally altering their cultural character. As Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch Freedom Party, has put it: “mass immigration” and “Islamic gender apartheid” threaten to flush “decades of [women’s] emancipation down the toilet.”42
Yet, fiery rhetoric aside, policy proposals to combat gender inequities more generally are typically absent.43 Radical-right party manifestos reveal this incongruence quite clearly. For example, when discussing gender equality in their 2018 election program, the Sweden Democrats briefly noted Sweden’s long-standing tradition of gender egalitarianism, then quickly pivoted to the threats posed by honor-related violence and female genital mutilation, before dismissing “gender theories” and quotas as unnecessary and ineffective.44 Turning to Norway, the very first page of the Norwegian Progress Party’s 2017 manifesto lists the banning of “women-discriminating” garments like the burka and niqab as one of the party’s policy priorities. Much further down, on page twenty, the party also mentions its categorical opposition to gender-based quotas.45 This type of inconsistent positioning is quite common. Examining the manifestos of six successful European radical-right parties, social scientist Tjitske Akkerman has found that while they vary in their degree of conservatism, none of them can be characterized as liberal with regard to their positions on gender relations.46 Even the Danish People’s Party, with its disproportionate number of female parliamentarians and its emphasis on the Islamic threat to achievements in gender equality, ultimately advocates for conservative family values and for policies that prioritize women’s caregiving roles.47 Akkerman therefore concludes that while “support for gender equality and women’s rights has now become widely spread over the whole political spectrum . . . only the radical-right parties [are] left to defend the last vestiges of (modern) conservative family relations.”48
The progressive’s dilemma around immigration and gender thus shows no signs of abating. That the radical right’s nods to gender equality do not represent actual policy shifts in the feminist direction should not come as a surprise. After all, one of its main sources of strength lies in backlash politics: namely, its successful appeal to men suffering from status loss vis-à-vis not only immigrant minorities, but also women.49 Moreover, so long as the promotion of native women’s fertility rates remains one of the most appealing ways to reduce future immigration and to maintain White dominance, traditional family values and the valorization of motherhood will continue to be important aspects of the radical right’s program.
In short, the radical right cannot and will not help progressives resolve their dilemma around gender and immigration. A more realistic way out of this predicament is a backlash to the backlash: if a sufficient number of previously unengaged voters and potential candidates recognize that the rise of the radical right hinders or even reverses progress on feminist causes, they might be motivated to engage in politics. The example of the United States is instructive here. The election of a radical-right, misogynistic president and his party’s attack on women’s reproductive rights has been widely credited for mobilizing sections of the female electorate and for greatly enlarging the pool of women running for office.50 Similarly, in several Scandinavian countries, feminist parties have sprung up in recent years to address stalled efforts at advancing gender equality. In Denmark, the Feminist Initiative (F!) runs on the slogan: “Out with the racists! In with the feminists!” The party explicitly links the country’s preoccupation with immigration and the associated success of the radical right with Denmark’s falling behind in global gender equity rankings.51
The electoral success of feminist parties and candidates remains variable and modest to date. But if these political forces succeed in raising awareness about the fact that, notwithstanding their women-friendly rhetoric, radical-right parties undercut all progressive achievements, their impact could be stronger than their numbers suggest.
- 1Pablo Beramendi, Silja Häusermann, Herbert Kitschelt, and Hanspeter Kriesi, The Politics of Advanced Capitalism (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015); Ronald Inglehart, The Silent Revolution: Changing Values and Political Styles among Western Publics (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1977); and Hanspeter Kriesi, Edgar Grande, Martin Dolezal, et al., Political Conflict in Western Europe (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012).
- 2See, for example, Keith Banting and Will Kymlicka, “Immigration, Multiculturalism, and the Welfare State,” Ethics and International Affairs 20 (3) (2006): 281–304; David Goodhart, “Too Diverse?” Prospect magazine, February 20, 2004, 30–37; and Ruud Koopmans, “Trade-Offs between Equality and Difference: Immigrant Integration, Multiculturalism and the Welfare State in Cross-National Perspective,” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 36 (1) (2010): 1–26.
- 3Kai Arzheimer, “Explaining Electoral Support for the Radical Right,” Oxford Handbook of the Radical Right, ed. Jens Rydgren (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018); Winston Chou, Rafaela Dancygier, Naoki Egami, and Amaney Jamal, “The Illusion of Radical Right Partisan Loyalty: How Party Positioning Affects Far-Right Voting in Germany,” working paper (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University, 2018); and Elisabeth Ivarsflaten, “What Unites Right-Wing Populists in Western Europe? Re-Examining Grievance Mobilization Models in Seven Successful Cases,” Comparative Political Studies 41 (1) (2008): 3–23.
- 4Hilde Coffé, “Gender and the Radical Right,” in Oxford Handbook of the Radical Right, ed. Rydgren; and Tim Immerzeel, Hilde Coffé, and Tanja van der Lippe, “Explaining the Gender Gap in Radical Right Voting: A Cross-National Investigation in 12 Western European Countries,” Comparative European Politics 13 (2) (2015): 263–286.
- 5For recent statistics, see Eurostat, “Migration and Migrant Population Statistics.”
- 6Kai Arzheimer, “Contextual Factors and the Extreme Right Vote in Western Europe, 1980–2002,” American Journal of Political Science 53 (2) (2009): 259–275; Rafaela Dancygier, Immigration and Conflict in Europe (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010); Matt Golder, “Far Right Parties in Europe,” Annual Review of Political Science 19 (2016): 477–497; Chou et al., “The Illusion of Radical Right Partisan Loyalty”; Ivarsflaten, “What Unites Right-Wing Populists in Western Europe?”; and Matthias Mader and Harald Schoen, “The European Refugee Crisis, Party Competition, and Voters’ Responses in Germany,” West European Politics 42 (1) (2018): 67–90.
- 7Chou et al., “The Illusion of Radical Right Partisan Loyalty”; Golder, “Far Right Parties in Europe”; and Jens Rydgren, “Immigration Sceptics, Xenophobes or Racists? Radical Right-Wing Voting in Six West European Countries,” European Journal of Political Research 47 (6) (2008): 737–765.
- 8Banting and Kymlicka, “Immigration, Multiculturalism, and the Welfare State”; and Goodhart, “Too Diverse?”
- 9John Roemer, Woojin Lee, and Karine van der Straeten, Racism, Xenophobia, and Distribution: Multi-Issue Politics in Advanced Democracies (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2007), elaborates on these two mechanisms and labels the first one the “anti-solidarity effect” and the second one the “policy bundle effect.”
- 10For research critical of the empirical basis of the progressive’s dilemma, see, for example, David Brady and Ryan Finnigan, “Does Immigration Undermine Public Support for Social Policy?” American Sociological Review 79 (1) (2014): 17–42; Bryan Burgoon, Ferry Koster, and Marcel van Egmond, “Support for Redistribution and the Paradox of Immigration,” Journal of European Social Policy 22 (3) (2012): 288–304; and Markus Crepaz and Regan Damron, “Constructing Tolerance: How the Welfare State Shapes Attitudes about Immigrants,” Comparative Political Studies 42 (3) (2009): 437–463. Evidence suggests that the dilemma is more salient in the context of racial diversity in the United States than it is in the European case, in part because European radical-right, anti-immigrant parties frequently do not intend to cut welfare state expenditures for natives. See Joakim Kulin, Maureen A. Eger, and Mikael Hjerm, “Immigration or Welfare? The Progressive’s Dilemma Revisited,” Socius 2 (2016): 1–15.
- 11Arzheimer, “Explaining Electoral Support for the Radical Right”; Golder, “Far Right Parties in Europe”; Terri E. Givens, “The Radical Right Gender Gap,” Comparative Political Studies 37 (1) (2004): 30–54; Immerzeel et al., “Explaining the Gender Gap in Radical Right Voting”; and Niels Spierings, Andrej Zaslove, Liza M. Mügge, and Sarah L. de Lange, “Gender and Populist Radical-Right Politics: An Introduction,” Patterns of Prejudice 49 (1–2) (2015): 3–15.
- 12Cas Mudde, Populist Radical Right Parties in Europe (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 111.
- 13Immerzeel et al., “Explaining the Gender Gap in Radical Right Voting.”
- 14In ibid. (using 2010 data), the French gender gap in support for the radical right stands at zero, though it has been unstable in the last decade. In the 2017 presidential election, it closed once more. Abdelkarim Amengay, Anja Durovic, and Nonna Mayer, “L’impact du genre sur le vote Marine Le Pen,” Revue française de science politique 67 (6) (2017): 1067–1087, argues that Marine Le Pen has been able to draw on the support of women, especially among younger cohorts of voters who came of political age after Jean-Marie Le Pen, her father and the party’s more extremist founder and president, had left the Front National.
- 15For a discussion, see Renate Bitzan, “Geschlechterkonstruktionen und Geschlechterverhältnisse in der extremen Rechten,” in Handbuch Rechtsextremismus, ed. Fabian Virchow, Martin Langebach, and Alexander Häusler (Wiesbaden, Germany: Springer, 2016), 325–373; Anette Linden and Bert Klandermans, “The Netherlands: Stigmatized Outsiders,” in Extreme Right Activists in Europe: Through the Magnifying Glass, ed. Bert Klandermans and Nonna Mayer (London: Routledge, 2006), 172–203; and Mudde, Populist Radical Right Parties in Europe, 109. Joyce Marie Mushaben, “The Rise of Femi-Nazis? Female Participation in Right-Extremist Movements in Unified Germany,” German Politics 5 (2) (1996): 240–261, identifies several types of women who join far-right causes. See also Cyntha Miller-Idriss and Hilary Pilkington, “Women are Joining the Far Right–We Need to Understand Why,” The Guardian, January 24, 2019, which notes that women are increasingly joining far-right movements.
- 16Ronald Inglehart and Pippa Norris, “Trump, Brexit, and the Rise of Populism: Economic Have-Nots and Cultural Backlash,” Perspectives on Politics 15 (2) (2017): 443–454.
- 17Hans-Georg Betz, Radical Right-Wing Populism in Western Europe (New York: St. Martin’s, 1994); Noam Gidron and Peter A. Hall, “The Politics of Social Status: Economic and Cultural Roots of the Populist Right,” The British Journal of Sociology 68 (S1): S57–S84; Givens, “The Radical Right Gender Gap”; and Diana Mutz, “Status Threat, Not Economic Hardship, Explains the 2016 Presidential Vote,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 115 (19) (2018): E4330–E4339.
- 18The evidence for the claim that immigration increases crime is mixed. See Jennifer Fitzgerald, K. Amber Curtis, and Catherine Corliss, “Anxious Publics: Worries about Crime and Immigration,” Comparative Political Studies 45 (4) (2012): 477–506; and Michael Minkenberg, “The Radical Right in Public Office: Agenda-Setting and Policy Effects,” West European Politics 24 (4) (2001): 1–21.
- 19Coffé, “Gender and the Radical Right”; and Elisabeth Gidengil, Matthew Hennigar, André Blais, and Neil Nevitte, “Explaining the Gender Gap in Support for the New Right: The Case of Canada,” Comparative Political Studies 38 (10) (2005): 1171–1195.
- 20Eelco Harteveld, Wouter Van Der Brug, Stefan Dahlberg, and Andrej Kokkonen, “The Gender Gap in Populist Radical-Right Voting: Examining the Demand Side in Western and Eastern Europe,” Patterns of Prejudice 49 (1–2) (2015): 103–134.
- 21Other reasons include gender differences in church attendance and in personality traits. For a more comprehensive review of the causes of the gender gap, see Coffé, “Gender and the Radical Right”; and Nonna Mayer, “The Closing of the Radical Right Gender Gap in France?” French Politics 13 (4) (2015): 391–414.
- 22Mudde, Populist Radical Right Parties in Europe; Cas Mudde and Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser, “Vox populi or vox masculini? Populism and Gender in Northern Europe and South America,” Patterns of Prejudice 49 (1–2) (2015): 16–36; and Tjitske Akkerman, “Gender and the Radical Right in Western Europe: A Comparative Analysis of Policy Agendas,” Patterns of Prejudice (49) (1–2) (2015): 37–60.
- 23Sarah de Lange and Liza M. Mügge, “Gender and Right-Wing Populism in the Low Countries: Ideological Variations across Parties and Time,” Patterns of Prejudice 49 (1–2) (2015): 61–80; and Mayer, “The Closing of the Radical Right Gender Gap in France?”
- 24Cited in Akkerman, “Gender and the Radical Right in Western Europe,” 54.
- 25For the AfD’s 2017 general election manifesto, see Alternative für Deutschland, Programm für Deutschland: Wahlprogramm der Alternative für Deutschland für die Wahl zum Deutschen Bundestag am 24. September 2017 (Berlin: Alternative für Deutschland, 2017).
- 26Cited in the SVP’s 2015 election program, available at Schweizerischen Volkspartei, “Unser Parteiprogramm 2019–2023.”
- 27This harsh reaction was posted on the website of the Junge SVP (Youth SVP), which is no longer available. It was prompted by the passing of legislation requiring large public companies to meet gender quotas.
- 28Under the gender quota heading listed on their website, the Sweden Democrats simply state “Sweden Democrats oppose quotas”; see Sverigedemokraterna, “A till Ö,” https://sd.se/a-o/. See also Susi Meret and Birte Siim, “Gender, Populism and Politics of Belonging: Discourses of Right-Wing Populist Parties in Denmark, Norway and Austria,” in Negotiating Gender and Diversity in an Emergent European Public Sphere, ed. Birte Siim and Monika Mokre (Basingstoke, United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), 78–96.
- 29Bitzan, “Geschlechterkonstruktionen und Geschlechterverhältnisse in der extremen Rechten”; and Mudde, Populist Radical Right Parties in Europe.
- 30In Sweden, the Social Democrats adopted these quotas partly in response to a drop in female representation in the national parliament between 1988 and 1991. Interestingly, some of this decline can be attributed to the entry of the far-right New Democrats. I thank Olle Folke and Johanna Rickne for this insight. See also Timothy Besley, Olle Folke, Torsten Persson, and Johanna Rickne, “Gender Quotas and the Crisis of the Mediocre Man: Theory and Evidence from Sweden,” American Economic Review 107 (8) (2017): 2204–2242.
- 31See also Mudde, Populist Radical Right Parties in Europe, 108.
- 32Chou et al., “The Illusion of Radical Right Partisan Loyalty”; and Mader and Schoen, “The European Refugee Crisis, Party Competition, and Voters’ Responses in Germany.”
- 33See ARD, “Bundestagswahl 2017: Deutschland.”
- 34Losses were most pronounced among the Christian Democrats. The CDU/CSU’s share of women fell from 24.8 to 19.9 percent.
- 35Akkerman, “Gender and the Radical Right in Western Europe.”
- 36Mayer, “The Closing of the Radical Right Gender Gap in France?”
- 37Angelique Chrisafis, “‘We Feel Very Close to Her’: Can ‘Fake Feminist’ Marine Le Pen Win the Female Vote?” The Guardian, March 18, 2017.
- 38David Art, Inside the Radical Right: The Development of Anti-Immigrant Parties in Western Europe (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011).
- 39Tjitske Akkerman and Anniken Hagelund, “‘Women and Children First!’ Anti-Immigration Parties and Gender in Norway and the Netherlands,” Patterns of Prejudice 41 (2) (2007): 197–214; and Meret and Siim, “Gender, Populism and Politics of Belonging.”
- 40Claire Adida, David Laitin, and Marie-Anne Valfort, Why Muslim Integration Fails in Christian-Heritage Societies (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2016); and Rafaela Dancygier, Dilemmas of Inclusion: Muslims in European Politics (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2017).
- 41Niels Spierings, Marcel Lubbers, and Andrej Zaslove, “‘Sexually Modern Nativist Voters’: Do They Exist and Do They Vote for the Populist Radical Right?” Gender and Education 29 (2) (2017): 216–237.
- 42Prologue to the party’s 2010 party program, cited in Mudde and Kaltwasser, “Vox populi or vox masculini?” 28.
- 43Meret and Siim, “Gender, Populism and Politics of Belonging”; and Mudde and Kalt-wasser, “Vox populi or vox masculini?”
- 44See Sverigedemokraterna, Valplattform: Sverigedemokraternas valplattform 2018 (Stockholm: Sverigedemokraterna, 2018).
- 45See “Prinsipp- og handlingsprogram,” Fremskrittspartiet.
- 46Akkerman focuses on the following issues when measuring these parties’ stances on gender relations in the family domain: “labor market participation, equal rights, educational opportunities, political participation, public childcare, freedom of choice vis-à-vis family planning/abortion, and the equal status of same-sex partnerships.” Akkerman, “Gender and the Radical Right in Western Europe,” 42.
- 47The Dutch Freedom Party (PVV) is the only radical-right party that appears neutral, balancing conservative with liberal stances, but Akkerman points out that it pays little attention to issues pertaining to gender equality. Unlike other radical-right parties, it is, however, a clear supporter of gay rights. Ibid.
- 48Ibid., 54.
- 49Gidron and Hall, “The Politics of Social Status: Economic and Cultural Roots of the Populist Right”; and Mutz, “Status Threat, Not Economic Hardship, Explains the 2016 Presidential Vote.”
- 50Danny Hayes, “A Year after the Women’s March, a Record Number of Women are Running for Office. Will They Win?” The Washington Post, January 19, 2018; and Jennifer Lawless and Richard Fox, The Trump Effect: Results from a Politico/American University/Loyola Marymount University Survey of Potential Candidates (Washington, D.C.: Women & Politics Institute, 2017).
- 51Karis Hustad, “Denmark’s New Feminist Party Declares, ‘Out with the Racists! In with the Feminists!’” GlobalPost, December 4, 2017.