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Why Women Avoid the Radical Right: Internalized Norms and Party Reputations

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 October 2016


Radical Right Parties (RRPs) consistently attract more male than female voters. Puzzlingly, there is no equally consistent gender difference in policy preferences on the main issues of these parties – immigration and minority integration policies. Indeed, in some countries, for instance the UK, women have as restrictive immigration policy preferences as men, but are still less likely to vote for RRPs. This article proposes a novel answer to this gender gap puzzle that emphasizes the normative conflicts about prejudice and discrimination that surround RRPs across Europe. It uses representative survey data to show, for the first time, that women are more likely than men to be motivated to control prejudice, and that this difference in motivations has political consequences. More specifically, the study demonstrates that the higher prevalence of internal motivation to control prejudice among women accounts for the gender gap in voting for RRPs that become trapped in conflicts over discrimination and prejudice. Voting patterns for RPPs that have been able to defuse normative concerns about prejudice, such as the Progress Party currently in government in Norway, are different.

© Cambridge University Press 2016 

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Department of Political Science, University of Amsterdam (email:; Department of Comparative Politics, University of Bergen (email: The data files are available at (Norway), (Sweden) and (UK). The syntax and data replication sets are available at, and online appendices are available at


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