The increased salience of environmental concerns, first and foremost global warming, is one of the key developments of contemporary Western European politics. Still, the effects of global warming issues on electoral outcomes, party competition and polarization remain poorly understood. Our article shows how the construction of wind turbines fuels conflict between its key proponents and opponents, Green and populist radical right parties. Contention over the issue contributes to the electoral success of both sides and therefore reinforces the new central divide between them. Drawing on a novel dataset, we investigate the impact of the construction of wind turbineson Alternative für Deutschland and Green party electoral success in Germany. We employ a two-way fixed effects model, where the construction of wind turbines functions as the independent variable. We show that the construction of wind turbines boosts the electoral support of both their biggest supporters and their biggest opponents. Our results have important implications for understanding contemporary political conflict in Western Europe such as the electoral rise of the Greens and the populist radical right, the importance of issue salience and the polarization of party systems.
Otteni, Cyrill & Manes Weisskircher (2021) Global warming and polarization. Wind turbines and the electoral success of the greens and the populist radical right, European Journal of Political Research. DOI: 10.1111/1475-6765.12487.