The emergence of populism

Nationalism and populism are increasing in Europe, on both the left and right sides of the political spectrum. 

Euro coins Photo credit: André BellingrodtThis project examines the political, economic, and social conditions which may facilitate this. Party manifestos are used to plot parties in two-dimensional political space and analyze their dynamics over time.

Previous work has shown that radical right parties in Western Europe have shifted position dramatically and have increased their nationalist claims while other parties have become more globalist (Eger & Valdez forthcoming, Eger & Valdez 2016).

Building upon this work, the project examines the rise of left- and right-wing populisms as complementary rather than contradictory forces within political systems. The aim of populists is to wrest control from a corrupt elite and restore sovereignty to “the people,” though their strategy for doing so depends on their overarching political ideologies. Therefore, either left or right populism can emerge as a response to late-stage globalization because they are, essentially, two sides of the same coin.

However, whether a left or right populist claim succeeds is not simply a flip of the coin. Rather, it is determined by national contexts such as political trajectories and economic conditions. This project focuses on the intersection of these factors to help explain the emergence of varieties of populism.

Drawing from spatial models of political competition, the project uses sequence analysis, cluster analysis, and event history models to examine how mainstream parties place themselves in ideological space over time, thereby creating (or not) ideological niches where populist parties can succeed.


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