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DONDENA Seminar Series Spring 2023 - Florian Foos


“Red Zones: Forced Displacement and Support for Radical Right Parties”


(with Luis Bosshart, Elias Dinas and Vicky Fouka)



How do experiences of forced displacement shape political outcomes in displaced communities in the long run? In this paper, we provide a causal answer to this question by exploiting two parallel cases of internal displacement, the forced evacuation of 1.5 million German and French citizens living inside the “Red Zones” along their shared border at the start of World War II. On both sides of the border, civilians were sent to what were considered safer parts of the respective country. In exile, displaced communities faced hardship and "othering", based on their status as linguistic, in the French case, and religious, in the German case, minorities in the respective host areas. They returned after one year of displacement when hostilities temporarily ceased after the German occupation of Paris. Using spatial regression discontinuity designs, we compare voting patterns of localities that were displaced between 1939 and 1940 to directly adjacent localities just outside the Red Zones that were not displaced. We find that displaced communities are 4-5 percentage points more likely to support populist radical right parties in the 2000s. This result holds for both Germany and France.




Florian is an Assistant Professor in Political Behaviour in the Department of Government of the London School of Economics (LSE). He studies political campaigns using randomized field experiments that he conducts with partner organisations, such as political parties and other campaign organisations. His research aim is to identify the causal effects of formal and informal interactions between citizens, politicians and campaign workers on electoral mobilization, opinion change and political activism. He is particularly interested in social mobilisation and persuasion between co-partisans and supporters of opposing parties or causes. Throughout his research, he applies experimental and quasi-experimental methods for causal inference.