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Keywords:

  • radical left;
  • ideology;
  • income inequality;
  • European Social Survey;
  • multilevel analysis

Abstract

This article examines support for radical left ideologies in 32 European countries. It thus extends the relatively scant empirical research available in this field. The hypotheses tested are derived mainly from group-interest theory. Data are deployed from the 2002–2010 European Social Surveys (N = 174,868), supplemented by characteristics at the country level. The results show that, also in the new millennium, unemployed people and those with a lower income are more likely to support a radical left ideology. This is only partly explained by their stronger opinion that governments should take measures to reduce income differences. In contrast to expectations, the findings show that greater income inequality within a country is associated with reduced likelihood of an individual supporting a radical left ideology. Furthermore, cross-national differences in the likelihood of supporting the radical left are strongly associated with whether a country has a legacy of an authoritarian regime.