Nancy Bermeo and Larry M. Bartels (Eds.), Mass politics
in tough times: Opinions, votes, and protest
in the great recession
New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2014. x + 400 pages.
USD 99.00 (hardcover)
Published online: 9 January 2016
Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016
A few years after the Great Recession, which began with the financial crisis of 2008,
has passed, it is time to take stock of its political ramifications. This obvious and
important research agenda has been taken up by Nancy Bermeo and Larry Bartels.
Mass Politics in Tough Times includes ten chapters by seventeen authors. It is a lose
collection of essays under the unifying question of how the recession has shaped
voters’ opinions and whether it has affected the differential success of political parties.
The individual contributions are bracketed together by an editorial introduction, which
succeeds surprisingly well in extracting the common elements of such diverse texts.
Bermeo and Bartels state that the political response to the Great Recession was
limited. The only dramatic responses occurred in response to the government austerity
programs, particularly in Eastern Europe countries such as Latvia and Hungary, but also
in Greece (Ch. 11). Neither long-term political developments, such as the rightward
shift of opinion in the UK (Ch. 4) or the success of the Front Nationale in France
(Ch. 9), both of which started well before the crisis of 2008, nor the public support for
the Euro (Ch. 5), has been considerably affected. Attitudes toward immigration (Ch. 6)
have only become slightly more hostile.
However, in accordance with well establish theories about retrospective voting, the
public punished incumbent parties depending on the severity of the recession (Ch. 7).
But there is neither a move to the left or right when it comes to voting behavior during
and after the crisis (pp. 206–207). Similarly, there has been no change in attitudes
toward redistribution policies in the UK (Ch. 4), nor anywhere else in Europe (p. 10).
However, the wide scope of the book does not allow the authors to examine the latter
Rev Austrian Econ (2017) 30:255–258
* Petrik Runst
Institute for Small Business Economics (ifh Göttingen), University of Göttingen,
Heinrich-Düker-Weg 6, 37073 Göttingen, Germany