Voting for the PVV in the Netherlands based on educational level and region an explanatory and comparative perspective

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Due to their increasing popularity, radical right parties are a force to be reckoned with in contemporary politics in the whole of Europe, but also in the Netherlands (Mudde, 2012). Radical right parties are characterized by certain traits such as: nativism, authoritarianism and populism (Mudde, 2007). In the Netherlands, the PVV (Party for Freedom) fits these criteria (Vossen, 2011). The PVV was founded in 2004 by Geert Wilders, who is a former member of the VVD (Liberal Party). The PVV is widely known in the Netherlands for its anti-migration positions, Eurosceptic attitudes and claiming to represent the needs of the ‘ordinary people’ (Lucardie & Voerman, 2012). From 2006 on their electoral support amongst voters has increased. Research into the electoral support for the PVV has identified that PVV voters are more often lower educated and that the PVV is more popular in certain parts of regions of the Netherlands (Billiet & de Witte, 2008; de Voogd, 2017). Moreover, research has shown that certain ideological motives are connected to the popularity of radical right parties such as: anti-migrant attitudes, national pride, populist attitudes, political distrust, (external) political efficacy and Eurosceptic attitudes (Ivarsflaten, 2007; Lucassen & Lubbers, 2011; Van Hauwaert & Van Kessel, 2017; Zmerli & Newton, 2007; Magni, 2017; Rydgren, 2008). In this research, these motives are used to explain as to why people from different educational level and different regions have voted for the PVV. The research question of this thesis entails: how can the relationship between educational level and voting for the PVV in the Netherlands be explained with different motives for voting for the PVV? Are there regional differences in voting for the PVV? Are there regional differences in motives for voting for the PVV? To explore these questions, national data were used collected after the most recent elections for the House of Representatives in 2017. These data were chosen because they contain representative information about voting behaviour, educational levels, geographical location and political attitudes (Nederlands Kiezersonderzoek, n.d.). The results of this research show that all the above-mentioned motives, except for national pride, play a role in explaining the relationship between voting for the PVV and educational levels. In other words: people with a lower level of education tend to experience more: migrant threat, populist attitudes, political distrust and Eurosceptic attitudes and less external political efficacy and therefore are more likely to vote for the PVV. In additional analyses, it appears that when combining all the motives, the foremost important motives are: migrant threat, populist attitudes and Eurosceptic attitudes. Furthermore, the results concerning regional differences and voting for the PVV were less apparent. Solely migrant threat and national pride showed significant differences as motives for voting for the PVV. People from the Western- and the Eastern regions are more likely to vote for the PVV when they experienced these political motives. The other motives (populist attitudes, political distrust, external political efficacy and Eurosceptic attitudes) were not significantly different across different regions in voting for the PVV. Concluding from this thesis the following can be stated: the different political motives that were studied in this research are of importance to explain differences amongst the electoral support for the PVV concerning educational level and regional differences. In follow-up research, smaller geographical levels should be considered, more political parties could be taken into consideration and a longitudinal study would provide more insight in trends in contemporary politics.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen