The Rise of Far-Right in Europe: Refugees Crisis and the Role of Mass Media

    • Ghent October 2019
    • Presentation speakers
      • Apostolia Gkika, Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences, Athens, Greece
      • Gregorios Siourounis, Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences, Athens, Greece


    This paper assesses the degree and the channels through which European mass media coverage of random arrivals of refugees to European soil, and in particular in Greece, are associated with the voting intentions of European citizens for far right parties. In the early 2015 enormous random refugee flows have appeared in European Eastern borders mainly due to the civil conflict in Syria. Greece is one of the countries that received enormous per capita refuging that were camped in asylum accommodation hot spots pending a decision on their asylum request or willing to escape in another European country with higher living standards or more labor opportunities. We explore this random shock in arrivals and link it to mass media coverage in European countries and then associate this with voting intentions recorded in rolling polls to assess if cross sectional variation in coverage can potentially explain cross sectional variation in far right voting intentions. We utilize a unique dataset that records daily refugee arrivals in the Greek Islands of Lesvos, Samos, Chios, Leros and Kos between 01 January 2016 and 28 April 2019. Since the number of refuges is not recorded in Greek islands before 2016, we consider 2016 the first year of our analysis. Data on the numbers of refugees are drawn from the Greek Ministry for Immigration Policy in East Aegean islands. The number of refugees are those stationed in local hot spots. The key concept is to utilize the daily refugee volatility of arrivals in East Aegean islands as a random shock that hits the European Union. Variations in the extend of mass media coverage across European countries is them recorded by parsing all major daily newspapers to measure the degree of that coverage and then associate this with the variation in voting intentions for far right on recorded rolling polls. The analysis is cross-sectional and uses fixed effects as well as time dummies to capture both time invariant and time variant country specific characteristics. Our analysis reveals that refugees arrivals in Greece have indirect effect on voting intention for Far-Right Parties via media coverage, and especially the cumulative refugees flows in Greece has stronger effect on opinion poll for Far-Right parties in Europe by media coverage.