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November 15, 2023

SOEP Brown Bag Seminar

Local far-right demonstrations and nationwide public attitudes


November 15, 2023


Karl Popper Room
DIW Berlin
Room 2.3.020
Mohrenstr. 58
10117 Berlin


Christopher Prömel, Freie Universität Berlin

One of the primary objectives of protests and demonstrations is to bring social, political, or economic issues to the attention of politicians and the wider population. While protests can have a mobilizing and persuading effect, they may reduce support for their cause if turned disruptive or disorganised. In this study, we look at how local or spontaneously organized far-right and xenophobic demonstrations affect concerns about hostility towards foreigners and worries about immigration in other districts in Germany. We use a regression discontinuity design to compare the attitudes of individuals interviewed in the days immediately before a large right-wing xenophobic demonstration and individuals interviewed in the days immediately after that demonstration. Our results show that within a 30-day bandwidth, right-wing demonstrations with 1,500 or more participants lead to a substantial increase in worries about hostility towards foreigners of about 13.70% of a standard deviation. Additionally, we show that the effects of larger demonstrations are stronger, which suggests that the higher salience of demonstrations, the higher their potential threat. In contrast, worries about immigration are not affected by the demonstrations, indicating that the demonstrations are not successful in swaying public opinion in their favour. Lastly, we also show that individuals become more politically active in response to protests, which mainly benefits left-wing parties.

Topics: Gender , Migration