Voting Populist or Just Voting for Populists? A Comparative Analysis of Populist Attitudes and Vote Choice in Central and Eastern Europe

Europe (Central and Eastern)
Survey Research
Voting Behaviour
Ben Stanley
University of Social Sciences and Humanities
Ben Stanley
University of Social Sciences and Humanities

This paper uses data from a new survey on populism and voting behaviour in eight countries of Central and Eastern Europe to address the question of whether people who vote for populist parties do so because they hold populist attitudes, or whether these attitudes are irrelevant to their decisions. First, I analyse the coherence of populist attitudes in each of the countries under analysis, to determine whether - and where - populism constitutes a latent set of demand-side attitudes which can potentially be activated by the supply-side provision of populist rhetoric and arguments. Following this, I estimate vote choice models in each of the countries, identifying whether populist attitudes have a significant impact on voting behaviour when controlling for a range of factors known to be predictive of vote choice, and whether populist attitudes have a reinforcing effect on the impact of other ideological attitudes. This paper will extend the comparative reach of an emerging body of research into populist attitudes in Western Europe (Akkerman et al 2014; Elchardus and Spruyt 2014) and Latin America (Hawkins et al 2012), and also contribute to ongoing methodological work on the measurement of populist attitudes.
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