Research projects

The left-behind across Europe

Alex Blajan Unsplash

In ‘The left-behind across Europe’ we aim to offer a data-driven and place-based analysis of some of the major political consequences of the deep spatial inequalities that have been opening up across most advanced economies.

Recent events such as the Brexit referendum, the 2016 US presidential elections, and the rise of extreme right-wing parties across continental Europe have attracted significant attention to populist politics and the dangers it poses to liberal democracy. Mounting evidence has linked the rising demand for populism to a long-term shift in political cleavages driven by forces associated to globalization, such as rising spatial inequalities, immigration, deindustrialization, and the impacts of the 2008 economic recession.

Yet, not enough is known about how these different forces play out across different typologies of cities and regions. Populist radical parties perform well in some cities and in some rural areas, but not in others. Hence, conventional explanations on the determinants of support for populist radical parties – such as those exclusively based on ‘cultural values’, long-term economic decline, or the presence of immigrants – cannot account for the support for populism in all areas.

Does urban density matter in the demand for populism? Have public policies aimed at fostering agglomeration economies in large cities contributed to the rise of discontent? And how should a place-based policy be designed to address the grievances raised by the populist vote? ‘The left-behind across Europe’ aims to contribute to answering these questions.