The Group Threat Hypothesis Revisited: A Spatial Analysis of NPD Electoral Support
Theoretical background and objectives
The group threat hypothesis states that the perception by members of the majority group that an outside group threatens their group's prerogative is positively associated with prejudice against the out-group. The population share of the immigrant population is the most-often used indicator to compare group threat across spatial units. However, the application of multilevel techniques for the analysis of spatial data relieson the arbitrary fragmentation of a spatial context into discrete units disconnected from one another at a higher hierarchical level. Moreover, the effects of space are continuous so that people might be affected by the macro-social conditions not only of their area of residence but also of the context beyond these administrative boundaries, such as the surrounding areas. In order to overcome these shortcomings, this project applies spatially weighted regression to the analysis of the electoral success of the NPD, an extreme right-wing political party, during the 2009 German federal election.
The results do not support the group threat hypothesis: the immigrant rate remains insignificant in large areas of West Germany while it shows a negative and significant relationship with NPD electoral success in most localities in East Germany as well as in Northern Bavaria. The latter finding fits the contact hypothesis: a higher percentage of immigrants within an electoral district implies larger interethnic contact opportunities and this in turn leads to a lower proportion of votes for the NPD. Methodologically, the findings illustrate the importance of spatial variability and make the case for a broader research agenda dedicated to exploring the mechanisms underlying spatial non-stationarity.