Individual drivers of toxicity in radical right-wing populist legislative campaigns

Daniel, William T. and Frelin, Elise and Robert, Max Valentin and Rowley-Abel, Laurence (2024) Individual drivers of toxicity in radical right-wing populist legislative campaigns. West European Politics. ISSN 0140-2382 (

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Most studies of political rhetoric examine only political leadership or treat parties as unified actors. However, what happens where electoral systems incentivise candidates to diverge from stated party messaging during campaigns? This article uses novel data on political experience and candidate backgrounds from the 2022 French parliamentary elections to explore the individual drivers of campaigning behaviour. The choice of France, with its multiple and prominent radical right-wing parties, allows for the consideration of both within- and between-party differences in individual campaigning. Using the salient example of toxic rhetoric, findings demonstrate that even when party leaders publicly urge moderation, individual candidates do not necessarily follow along. This implies the need for additional focus on the individual-level drivers of political semantics, especially where candidates are apt to campaign independently, using social media platforms to communicate directly with citizens.