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Who votes for Fremskrittspartiet? October 27, 2008

Posted by Sverre in : Norwegian politics, Political behavior , trackback

Norwegian media today references a survey conducted by Norstat for Norwegian State Broadcasting (NRK) that shows that voters for the Norwegian party Fremskrittspartiet (The Progress Party) are more diverse than voters of other Norwegian parties. This corresponds quite well with a paper I wrote for a class in advanced statistics, analyzing the FrP voter based on data from the European Social Survey (ESS).

I analyzed the FrP voters according to the so-called “FrP code” presented by Norwegian Author Magnus Marsdal in the influential book FrP-koden. He claims that the success of FrP can be explained by the tension between a left-oriented cultural elite and a group of disgruntled voters identifying themselves with working class values. These are perceived to have little education and a low income, to be xenophobic and sceptical to the government and people in power. Marsdal employs mostly univariate analysis and anecdotal evidence to support these claims. I performed a regression analysis, testing these and a few other hypotheses, concluding that both low education, low age, scepticism to government and scepticism to immigration seems to increase probability of voting FrP. However, the tests of statistical reliability indicate that there are groups of voters that are very poorly predicted by these indicators, appraently voting FrP for some other, unexplained reasons.

With the analysis now referenced by Norwegian media (which unfortunately doesn’t seem to have been publicized in its entirety) it seems that these theories are strengthened. There is a core group of young, lowly educated, xenophobic voters sceptical to government, but there are also significant groups of voters who don’t fit this pattern.

I believe this to be the result of extremely successful populism by FrP, recruiting voters on the basis of popular issues, not on commitment to their policies as a whole. This allows them to recruit voters that aren’t really that interested in political issues in general, but feel strongly about single issues. For example they have recruited many Christian conservative voters in south and southwest Norway by being staunch supporters of Israel, even though the mass of their voters don’t agree. But that mass of voters probably don’t give a damn about Israel and are content with voting FrP because they agree with the party on their favourite issues.

I might not think this is a good way to do politics, but I have to admit it works in terms of getting votes.

If you want to read the entire paper, entitled “Decrypting the FrP Code – a multivariate analysis of FrP voters”, you may download it in PDF format: Decrypting the FrP code (PDF)


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