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In reviewing the fallout of the Brexit referendum, one of the results appears to be an extreme increase in the number of racist/political based attacks and incidents.

Of course, this has left me wondering if that was unexpected at all, since part of the Brexit campaign was based on aggressive attempts to demonize foreigners and present them as a danger1.

So, the question: it has been proven a relationship how divisory or aggressive are the campaigns of mainstream politics with a sharp rise in racist and political aggressions and incidents?

Specifically, I do not want to include data about elections that happen in an already violent context, but those in which the number of attacks has risen sharply if you compare it with previous campaigns and the pre-electoral situation.

Also, I am interested in mainstream parties because:

  • they have a major influence

  • fringe extremist groups usually do not change their audience much, so I expect them not to be very important whe the study is about changes in the number of incidents.

I understand that the first part of the correlation (how divisive or aggressive the campaign is) is difficult to assess, so I would prefer references to studies that explain their methodology than just raw historical examples.

In case anyone wants to know, I wonder about the ethical implications2 for the people doing and supporting campaign practices as extreme and undesirable as:

  • use of racial profiling / xenophobia

  • demonization of the opponent

  • threats against political opponents

  • delegitimation of the electoral process (AFAIK it did not happen for the Brexit, but still goes with the package).

and that can result in verbal or physical aggressions.

To be clear, I do not want to make any claim or assumption against anybody just because they support a political position, just the effect that these electoral practices have in the whole situation3.


1To put some examples

  • Boris Johnson: "Napoleon, Hitler, various people tried this out, and it ends tragically. The EU is an attempt to do this by different methods."

  • A Brexit propaganda poster, depicting Syrian refugees in Slovenia (UK is not part of the Schengen area, so third party nationals could not move inside the UK from the EU and the picture was not related to Brexit). And its comparation with other similar posters enter image description here

  • Verbal attacks on minorities, characterizing foreigners en masse as criminals or as seeking to profit from public assistance.

  • Racism against public figures, up to accusing them of relationships with extremist and terrorist groups and other crimes, without any proof.

  • Replacement of objective information by messages designed to scare the public (e.g., "Breaking point", "We want UK back" brings the idea that "England no longer is ours", which many people living in England could, understandably, feel frightening).

2Of course, the ethical considerations are personal and not part of the question. I just want the data.

  • Sorry for the tirade, but the question is complex and somewhat sensitive and I wanted to prevent it for being missunderstood. – SJuan76 Nov 18 '16 at 18:48

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