Elite Influence? Religion and the Electoral Success of the Nazis

Jörg L. Spenkuch, Philipp Tillmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

In Weimar Germany, the Catholic Church vehemently warned ordinary parishioners about the dangers of extremist parties. We establish that constituencies' religious composition is a key empirical predictor of Nazi vote shares—dwarfing the explanatory power of any other demographic or socioeconomic variable. Even after carefully accounting for observational differences, Catholics were far less likely to vote for the NSDAP than their Protestant counterparts. The evidence suggests that this disparity was, in large part, due to the sway of the Catholic Church and its dignitaries. At the same time, we show that attempts to immunize Catholics against the radical left failed to achieve the desired result. To explain the puzzling asymmetry in the Church's influence at the ballot box, we develop a simple theoretical framework of elite influence in electoral politics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-36
Number of pages18
JournalAmerican Journal of Political Science
Volume62
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations

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