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Working Papers / Global Economics: Trade Investment and Development

2017

Shocks and Far-Right Voting: Evidence from French Presidential Elections

Author(s): Clément Malgouyres

Topic(s): Trade, Investment and International Cooperation //

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ABSTRACT

The rise of radical right parties is a Europe-wide phenomenon. While many studies describe the individual or regional characteristics associated with high propensity to vote for the far-right, we know little about the causal impact of economic shocks on electoral support for the far-right. Over the period 1995-2012, we examine the impact of trade-shocks, measured as exposure to low-wage country import competition, on the local vote share of the National Front, the French main far-right party, during presidential elections. We use small communities (cantons) as units of observations and include province (département) fixed effects, so that the identifying variation comes from within-province change in imports exposure over time. We find evidence of a small but significantly positive impact of import competition exposure on votes for the far-right: a one standard-deviation increase in imports-per-worker causes the change in the far-right share to increase by 7 percent of a standard deviation. Further results suggest that this effect has been increasing over the time period considered. We conduct a simple sensitivity test supporting the notion that (i) omitting local share of immigrants is likely to bias our estimate downward, and that (ii) this bias is likely to negligible.