sum up on what the differece between 1930s and 1920s politics

Topics: Democracy, Great Depression, Political spectrum Pages: 23 (2908 words) Published: December 10, 2013
We examine the impact of the Great Depression on the share of votes for right wing anti
system parties in elections in the 1920s and 1930s. We confirm the existence of a link between political extremism and economic hard times as captured by growth or cont
raction of the economy. What mattered was not
simply growth at the time of the election but cumulative growth performance. But
the effect of the Depression on support for right
wing anti
system parties
was not equally powerful under all economic, politic
al and social circumstances.
It was greatest in countries with relatively
short
histories of democracy, with
existing extremist parties, and with electoral systems that create d
low hurdles to
parliamentary representation. Above all, it was greatest wher e depressed
economic conditions were allowed to .
Introduction
The impact of the global credit crisis and Great Recession has been more than just economic. In both parliamentary and presidential democracies governments have
been ousted. Hard economic times have increased political
polarization and bred support for nationalist and right
wing political parties. All
this gives rise to fear
s
that economic hard times will feed political extremism, as
it did in the 1930s.
M
emori
es of the 1930s inform much contemporary political commentary, just as they inform
recent
economic commentary. But exactly what impact the
interwar depression and economic crisis had on
the electoral fortunes
of
extremist
parties has not been systematical
ly studied.
1
M
any of our intuitions
about the links between the Depression and political extremism are informed by the case of
Germany
.
There
,
both communists and fascists saw their vot
e shares
increase
sharply
as the economic crisis deepened
after 1929
. The view that this
link was causal is widely shared. And the horrific consequences of what followed have led observers, whether consciously or not, to generalize from
the German
experience
.
B
ut was what was true of Germany
that bad economic times f
ed support
for political extrem
ists on both the left and right
also
true of other countries?
Germany, it can be argued, was distinctiv
e
.
It
was a country in which
the Great
Depression was unusually severe
. A
reactionary
agrarian
aristocracy is said t
o
have hindered the development of
democratic culture before 1914
. Its
population was divided b
y religion, class and ideology
. The
experience of defeat
in World
War I had a radicalizing effect
.
T
he Weimar Republic’s electoral system
made it eas
y
for
small parties to enter Parliament
. All these factors have been
suggested as reasons
for the rise of political extremism in interwar Germany
.
But it is
not clear
to what
extent
one
can generalize from German experience and
conclude that they were important
elsewhere
.
Answering
such
question
s
is our goal in th
is
paper. We study the share of
votes for
extremists in elections
in 28 countries
between World Wars I and II,
focusing on
right
and left
wing
anti
system parties

that is
,
parties explicitly
advocat
ing
overthrow of a country’s political system
.
2
1
To be sure, there are statistical studies linking unemployment to the rise of the National Socialists in Germany, along with competing studies disputing that link (see for example King et
al.
2008, O’Loughlin 2000 and Stögbauer 2001). Qualitative studies analyze the breakdown of
democracy and the rise of authoritarianism in Germany and elsewhere (see inter alia Linz and Stepan 1978, Berg
Schlosser and Mitchell 2000, 2002, Bermeo 2003). A few analyses have attempted to connect macroeconomic distress to pol
itical outcomes more broadly (see e.g. Berg
Schlosser and Mitchell 2000). But a systematic study that looks across countries and asks not just whether there was a link between the interwar business cycle and the rise of extremist parties, but also whether...
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