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Support for Left/Right Populists: Insights from Case Studies

Extremism
Governance
Populism
P361
Stijn van Kessel
Queen Mary, University of London
Martin Mejstřík
Charles University

Saturday 14:00 - 15:40 (09/09/2017)

Building: BL20 Helga Engs hus Floor: Basement Room: HE U35

Abstract

How do we explain the recent electoral success of populist radical parties? One line within the existing literature suggests that support for populist radical parties may be explained by transformations in the structure of political competition in Europe - namely the electoral salience of cultural conflicts over redistributive ones. This line of explanation posits that populist radical parties appeal to voters' preferences along the cultural dimension which may not be catered to by traditional parties. At the same time however, this structuralist perspective does not seem to fully accommodate how populism - frequently characterised by anti-establishment appeals - impacts the support for the these parties. And perhaps more crucially, while the structuralist perspective might be sufficient to explain who supports these parties, it does not appear to be as adequate in explaining when these parties are successful. To put it more simply - why are some of these populist radical parties more successful now than before? This therefore pushes us to ask if the timing of success has much to do with context. If so, are there possible common contextual factors at play to explain the timing of electoral success for these parties - the role of the media, political apathy, bubbling anti-elite sentiments? Through three detailed case-studies, this panel therefore attempts to do two things - (a) to explore other explanations of support for populist radical parties while re-examining the structuralist perspective, and (b) to explain the timing of electoral success for these parties.
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