The strange non-death of populism in Europe
Şimşek, Caner (2017) The strange non-death of populism in Europe. [Thesis]
Populist upsurge is running through the Western world and many scholars try to make sense of it. Populism has long been considered to be a thin-centered ideology and efforts to understand it have been concentrated accordingly. Considering populism primarily as a strategy employed by an outsider, this paper investigates the reasons for populist upsurge. By employing the European Social Survey Round 7 data, it demonstrates that perceived unwillingness of the politicians to care for people and distrust in political parties are strong predictors of populist vote. It further demonstrates that increased saliency of the issues owned by populist parties is largely responsible for their electoral success. Populism tends to take a right-wing form when national identity issues become salient and a left-wing form when income inequality becomes salient. To investigate populist entrenchment, the paper analyzes the cases of the Front National, the Freedom Party of Austria and the Danish People’s Party. Contrary to dominant view in the literature, it shows that mainstream co-optation of populist party positions helps populist parties.
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