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2020 Honors Thesis: Justin Cohen


Name:

Justin Cohen

Title of Thesis:

Greek Radical Party Emergence Following Its Economic Crisis

Honors level:

High Honors (magna cum laude)

Committee:

Sue Mialon, Robert Roth, Jr. (Mathematics), Alexander Bolton (Political Science)

Abstract:

Following the 2008-2009 financial crisis, Greece experienced a rapid decrease in economic output as its GDP fell and its unemployment rate rose. In the backdrop, an emergence of political instability ensued, leading to an openly neo-Nazi party – the Golden Dawn – gaining numerous seats in the European Parliament following the country’s 2012 election. This research explores some of the underlying effects that the economy had on political parties in the country. To achieve this, NUTS level 2 data was utilized to analyze how economic factors influenced the vote share of the Golden Dawn party throughout the nation’s regions, as well as the vote share for extreme and right-winged parties. A seemingly unrelated regression (SUR) model ­– one of the latest techniques ­– was deployed to accurately measure impacts on multiparty vote share, and difference-in-difference-in-differences regressions were able to quantify the change in voting behavior from the 2009 to the 2012 national parliamentary elections. The results from this paper demonstrate that the native employment rate change had no impact on the Golden Dawn’s relative vote share in the 2012 elections but did show such effects on the overall extreme parties’ vote share. So, the main driving force for the Golden Dawn’s success was not economic, but rather through its nationalistic proposals on immigration. An analysis on immigration effects shows that the Golden Dawn’s vote share, compared to other parties, greatly benefitted in regions with high immigration populations and became more mainstream during the 2012 elections. While the immigration population yielded substantial results for the Golden Dawn, the actual level of immigration, however, in the country had no bearing. This suggests that as anti-immigrant sentiment was on the rise in Greece, the actual impact of immigration was not noticed by the population. Hopefully, the results from this research will empower the Greek government to continue support for immigration in their country without fear of political repercussion, enable moderate parties to prioritize various fiscal policies to prevent radicalization, and provide insights to Greece and similar countries on the voting behavior of their electorate.

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