Radical right parties gained ground in several coun tries during the 1980s and 1990s. In France and Denmark they have received from 9% to 15% of the vote and have even become part of govern ing coali tions in Austria and Italy. This elect oral success has led to a great deal of schol arly interest in the radical right. Many authors have noted that radical right parties tend to be more attract ive to male voters. The differ ence between men and women’s votes for radical right parties has been gener al ized as a reflec tion of the messages of the radical right, which women may negat ively construe as ultracon ser vat ive and anti fem in ist (Kitschelt, 1995; Mayer, 1998; Plasser, Ulram, & Sommer, 2000; Simmons, 2001). There are grounds for these gener al iz a tions. For example, radical right parties tend to
have male-domin ated hier arch ical struc tures. They also tend to be anti abor tion and to support plans for giving women money (kinder schecks) for each child they have. However, these types of posi tions have not kept women from voting for conser vat ive parties in the past. As I discuss in more detail in the follow ing, several studies have shown that until recently, women have tended to vote in higher percent ages than men for conser vat ive parties. Although the afore men tioned authors describe a gender gap in the vote for the radical
right, none of these studies have used the tools developed in the liter at ure on gender gaps to determ ine if this gender gap exists when controlling for struc tural, situ ational, or polit ical vari ables. Studies of gender gaps and differ ences in voting beha vior between men and women have gener ally focused on main stream parties or broad differ ences in left-right placement. In this article, I first examine if there is a gender gap in the vote for radical right parties. This analysis uses tech niques drawn from the liter at ure on gender gaps in voting. Authors such as De Vaus and McAllister (1989); Studlar, McAllister, and Hayes (1998); and Howell and Day (2000) have used survey data and regres sion analysis to explore the complexit ies of the gender gap. These types of analyses provide a theor et ical basis for under stand ing the struc tural factors, situ ational factors, and polit ical issues that influ ence voting beha vior. My analysis of the radical right gender gap also exam ines the impact of the immig ra tion
issue on the vote for the radical right. Immigration has been an issue used by the radical right to attract voters. One hypo thesis to be explored is that the gender gap in the vote for the radical right (where it exists) is driven by gender differ ences in atti tudes toward immig ra tion. I also examine several hypo theses drawn from the gender gap liter at ure. One of the main
argu ments is that a gender gap in left/right voting can be explained by differ ences in employment levels and other socioeco nomic factors. Women are less likely to work, which has been shown to be an explan at ory factor in the left/right gender gap. Women are also less likely to be blue-collar workers, who have become an import ant constitu ency for the radical right.