Growing Number of Women Backing Right-Wing Populism in Europe, German Study Finds

Growing Number of Women Backing Right-Wing Populism in Europe, German Study Finds

Women are increasingly supporting right-wing populism parties across Europe including the far-right, according to a German study, even though the stereotypical image of these organizations’ supporters are the “angry white men”.

What is more, female supporters of the European far-right are often more radical than their male peers, a new study by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, which is affiliated with Germany’s leftist Social Democratic Party (SPD).

The study has been released in the wake of the far-right and neo-Nazi outbursts in Germany’s Chemnitz after a German man (later revealed to be of Cuban origin) was stabbed to death in an incident involving migrants.

While most of the far-right demonstrators – including the ten instances in which protesters were seen giving the forbidden Nazi salute of “Heil Hitler” – were men, a few women were also seen in their crowds.

The report of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation examines right-wing populist voters in Germany, France, Sweden, Greece, Poland, and Hungary.

It reminds that 17% of the women in East Germany and 8% of those in West Germany voted for the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party during the country’s 2017 parliamentary election.

In Poland, more women than men voted for the ruling right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party in the country’s 2015 election.

Many right-wing populist parties examined in the report try to attracted female voters by vowing boosts to the welfare system, its editor Elisa Gutsche said, as cited by DW.

“Parties say they will raise child benefit payments and make related allowances to promote families,” she said.

Poland’s PiS has launched the Family 500+ initiative, which guarantees families with two children a payment of about EUR 120 (USD 140) per child every month until they reach the age of 18.

Germany’s AfD promotes a “welcome culture for children” — in contrast to the country’s much lauded “welcome culture” towards foreign refugees. Thus, many women backing right-wing populists are believed to be doing so out of concern over social issues.

The study of the leftist think tank also points out that women hold prominent positions in right-wing populist parties thus giving the perception of gender equality – even though the less visible party ranks are “manned” almost entirely by men.

Female leadership in right-wing populist formations includes AfD co-leader Alice Weidel, the leader of the French National Front Marine Le Pen, and Poland’s former Prime Minister and PiS member Beata Szydlo.

“These women are there to give these parties a more open, modern guise and to appeal to female voters. These are not progressive parties; there is no real gender equality,” Gutsche argued.

According to the report, women supporting right-wing populists are even more inclined than men to profess strong xenophobia and Islamophobia.

“That finding surprised me the most. I think women sense they are at the lower rungs of society and find themselves having to compete against refugees and migrants,” said Gutsche, arguing that offers further explanation why women support right-wing populist parties.

(Banner image: Wikipedia)

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