Q&A with Diane Bolet

Explaining the rise of the radical right in Europe

Diane Bolet is a PhD candidate at the European Institute

I have learnt insightful advice from economic geographers, sociologists and political economists as well as political behaviouralists and comparativists.

Diane Bolet

Diane Bolet
Diane Bolet

What are you currently researching?

My research investigates the local contextual drivers that can explain the rise of the radical right in Europe. I examine how an individual’s connection to their local place and community can motivate support or concerns about radical right voting.

Local dynamics such as the rapid rise of ethnic diversity, unemployment or the decline of socio-cultural activity are all contextual factors that can potentially lead to radical right support.

What attracted you to this area of research?

My interest in the radical right dates back to my early years of political engagement when I demonstrated for the first time in my home country of France. I did this after Jean-Marie Le Pen entered the second round of the 2002 Presidential elections.

Coming from a country which has a long history with the radical right has made me very sensitive to this political phenomenon. I gathered anecdotal evidence on how and why the radical right have risen in particular geographical contexts during my undergraduate years, this evidence then became the starting point of my academic research. 

How will your research improve or have a wider impact on society?

Cultural and economic crises following de-industrialisation have dramatically created uneven trajectories between the ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ of modernisation.

Unveiling the local factors that can explain Brexit, the rise of Trump and the success of radical right parties is key to tackling growing resentment in more economically-deprived areas, especially after the migration crisis.

I hope my thesis will contribute to a more nuanced understanding of local economic, social and cultural drivers that boost radical right support.

I, along with a team of researchers, have recently published a report on the local impacts of Brexit in five marginal constituencies based on interviews with local experts. The report has generated debate in these constituencies and an upcoming discussion in the House of Commons.

What do you hope to do career-wise, long term?

I want to pursue an academic career that spans political behaviour, comparative politics and political economy, and to disseminate work to academic and non-academic audiences.

What are your top three tips to prospective students on the most effective way to approach research and keep stress levels down?

Get involved with other PhD students and junior and senior scholars from a wide range of disciplines. This will help you critically think about your work from various approaches. I have learnt insightful advice from economic geographers, sociologists and political economists as well as political behaviouralists and comparativists.

Present your ideas and papers to your peers as much as possible. This will not only help you improve your presentation skills, but will also force you to structure your argument and write it down under tight deadlines.

Structure your time well so that you can guarantee (at least) a day off per week to enjoy all that London can offer.

What resources are available at LSE to help young researchers?

Your supervisors are the obvious go-to when you need help but many other resources are offered at LSE through the PhD Academy, the careers office, Research and Innovation, the library and your department.

What do you enjoy most about studying at LSE?

The intellectual stimulation of being surrounded by, and engaging with, top notch students and academics.