Frank Mols and Jolanda Jetten discuss the recent provocative statements on Muslims by Pauline Hanson:
‘Pauline Hanson once again emerged from the shadows to make headlines with her controversial statement ‘not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims’. At first glance, this statement may seem accurate, and the more this catch phrases gets repeated, the more people will hold it to be true.
‘However, one only needs to consider Anders Breivik’s attack in Norway, Timothy McVeigh’s ‘Oklahoma Bombing’, and the many Red Army Faction (RAF), Irish Republican Army (IRA) and Basque separatist ETA attacks we witnessed in earlier decades to realize that this statement is simply untrue. The same can be said about our beliefs about the kinds of voters that far-right parties attract, and when populist right-wing parties like One Nation will be able to rise.
‘The conventional wisdom is that such parties are most popular in times of economic crisis, and that such parties are most popular among relatively poor uneducated voters. This too is an assumption that hides a more complex reality. Although there is evidence to support these conventional wisdom views, there is mounting evidence that such parties are also attracting relatively affluent voters. Not only is it becoming increasingly apparent that populist right-wing parties tend to thrive in wealthy countries (e.g. Switzerland, Austria, to name but a few), it is also clear from social psychological experiments, some of which were conducted among UQ students, that those who feel they are financially worse off than others (those who feel Relatively Deprived), and those who feel they are better off than others (those who feel Relatively Gratified) are equally likely to support anti-immigration measures, while those in the middle (who feel neither Deprived nor Gratified) are the least hostile towards immigration. These findings are of considerable important for those speculating about a possible return of Pauline Hanson to the political scene, because it suggest that parties like One Nation have much wider appeal than we may be inclined to think or assume.