How the LPF Fuelled Discontent: Empirical tests of explanations of LPF support

Wouter van der Brug

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In this article, three models to explain the LPF vote are tested; the socio-structural model, the protest vote model, and the policy voting model. Popular explanations of the success of the LPF in 2002 consist of mixtures of the socio-structural and the protest vote model. Votes for the LPF are described as protest votes, mainly from low-educated 'angry white men', who are sociologically expected to feel mostly attracted to the simple populist message of a charismatic politician. The results from this study show, however, that these explanations are not valid. LPF voters hardly fit the sociological profile proposed in this literature. Moreover, general feelings of discontent towards parties and politicians (political cynicism and lack of political efficacy) did not affect the LPF vote. Instead, the effect was the other way around: preferences for the LPF fuelled political cynicism, and reduced political efficacy. This study provides firm support for the policy voting model. In 2002, LPF voters evaluated the LPF on the basis of its policies, mainly its fierce position on refugees. So, votes for the LPF were based on the same kind of reasoning that voters for other parties make: voters vote for the party they agree with the most on those issues they consider important. In conclusion, implications of these findings are discussed for (1) theories of voters for right-wing populist parties in general, (2) explanations of LPF support in particular, and (3) the strategies employed to treat such parties (accommodation versus the cordon sanitair).
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)89-106
JournalActa politica
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • IR-60786

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