Populism, Political Identities and Voting Behavior: The Case of Spain

Comparative Politics
Southern Europe
Survey Research
Voting Behaviour
Nina Wiesehomeier
Fundación Instituto de Empresa G81711459
Nina Wiesehomeier
Fundación Instituto de Empresa G81711459

In this Paper we posit that both negative and anti-establishment political identities are crucial to explain the recent electoral successes of populist actors. While a negative political identity alludes to an emotional and rational repulsion towards one specific political party of a given country (e.g. PP or PSOE in the case of Spain), an anti-establishment political identity entails the rejection of all mainstream political parties as dishonest and corrupt (e.g. PP and PSOE in the case of Spain). Therefore, an anti-establishment political identity provides a fertile ground for populist sentiments and thus ultimately populist voting behavior. We test our theory for the case of Spain in an electoral context that saw the established two-party dominant system being seriously challenged by two new contenders: Ciudadanos (a non-populist party) and Podemos (a populist party). Using original survey data fielded in the week before the election in December 2015, we show that anti-establishment political entity and populist sentiments are indeed linked to vote choice for Podemos and interact with ideology in expected ways.
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"Man is by nature a political animal" - Aristotle

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