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[autom.vertaling] Het onderzoek van de EU benadrukt rol van verslechterende het werk voorwaarden in de stijging van rechtse populisme (en)

maandag 24 mei 2004, 12:57

Through a comparative analysis of individual reactions to socio-economic

change and employment conditions, the EU study aims to stimulate debate on the

flexibility and security of Europe's social model. With a view to the

alarming levels of xenophobia and anti-semitism and the increase in support for

right-wing populist or extremist parties, the SIREN project provides an

assessment of the extent to which changes in working life make people more

receptive to right-wing extremism and populism as well as xenophobia, extreme

nationalism and racism.

Flexibility, insecurity and worsening of social conditions

The study found that discontent contributing to electoral support for

extremist parties stemmed from a series of causes including the restructuring of

the private and public sectors, which has led to high levels of perceived job

insecurity. Some 27% of the working population has experienced a decrease in job

security over the last 5 years, while only 18% report an increase and 55% report

stable job security. Older workers are particularly affected by increased

employment insecurity and poor working conditions.

Cuts in welfare spending and fewer social protection mechanisms have also led

to perceptions of greater social insecurity. Precarious employment and living

situations also contribute to people feeling powerless, unable to plan for the

future and more susceptible to extremist parties. Increased job competition,

losses and stress in a deteriorating work climate also leads to people feeling a

sense of injustice.

Not only "modernisation losers" are receptive to the extreme


The findings confirm that socio-economic changes play an important role in

explaining the rise of right-wing populism in European countries. However, the

study does not indicate a simple relation between negative changes in work and

attraction to right-wing populism. According to the study, not only

"modernisation losers", but also some "modernisation

winners" are particularly attracted to the extreme right. The reasons are

different for each of these groups.

Some "winners" turned out to be very competitive, to strongly

identify with their company, to be attracted by individualistic views and hold

the conviction that some social groups should dominate over others. Many

"losers" showed strong feelings of injustice and held the conviction

that people like themselves are not sufficiently rewarded for the work they do.

This tended to foster a displaced aggressive reaction, leading to prejudice

against immigrants and minorities and authoritarian attitudes.

Policy implications for Europe

Changes in working conditions by themselves do not always and necessarily

lead to support for the extreme right. According to the study, such a reaction

can only be understood when taking into account workers' perception of

political powerlessness and politicians' perceived lack of interest in the

workers' world. Consequently the respondents' perception of a lack

of recognition of their problems in national and European politics has led to a

crisis of representation.

Potential policies to be discussed at the Brussels' workshop to help

reduce xenophobia and racism and mitigate underlying social problems could

include ways to remedy this representation crisis in companies, the economy and

the political sphere as a whole. Other policies to be discussed include

improving actual and perceived job security and working conditions in Europe;

strengthening initiatives against racism and xenophobia and avoiding

"scapegoating" by drawing attention to the actual causes of social

problems; and working with the media towards guidelines to ensure the fair

treatment of migrants.
For further information please visit:

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