This paper by Zhen Jie Im, Nonna Mayer, Bruno Palier and Jan Rovny studies the association between the risk of automation and vote choice in 11 countries, including the UK. It found increased job risk from automation was associated with greater propensity to vote for radical right parties, largely at the expense of mainstream right-wing parties. The radical right have successfully tapped into a narrative of protecting voters whose work is at risk from the effects of globalisation, and increasingly, technology. These parties offer a nostalgic return to a tech-free ‘mythic past’, a politically unique position as most mainstream parties have taken an optimistic outlook on technological innovation. The key demographic the radical right are winning over are those who perceive a risk of downward mobility, not those already experiencing poverty and job loss. There are two predominant dynamics in how automation can push voters to the radical right. First, routine workers looking to shore up their sense of security against downward mobility, Second, voters who are ‘just about managing’, but fear a future status decline. Voters experiencing actual hardship, not just risk, show increased political apathy. However, these findings are limited due to the difficulty in measuring individual perceptions of automation risk.
Politics and perceptions of automation risk