Student Profile

Jennifer Simons

PhD Candidate, Political Science


I am a doctoral candidate in political science, with a focus in comparative politics and political methodology, at the University of Virginia. My research is broadly concerned with the dynamics of tolerance, pluralism, and extremism in contemporary European sociopolitical life. My dissertation explores the evolution of “the nation” as constructed in the rhetoric of the Populist Radical Right and the implications of these changes on party vote share and favorability. Using the cases of the French National Rally (RN, formerly National Front (FN)) and the Alternative for Germany (AfD) I illustrate how shifts towards more inclusive conceptions of nationhood, ones that include references to Jews and the LGBTQ community while still remaining largely antagonistic towards Muslims, have afforded these parties plausible deniability from longstanding accusations of bigotry, in turn helping them to gains support beyond their traditional bases.