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Political Research Exchange - PRX

Is it the Economy, Stupid? Explaining Voting for Populist Parties in the Aftermath of the Great Recession

Public Opinion
Voting Behaviour
Danilo Serani
Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Danilo Serani
Universitat Pompeu Fabra

The harshness of the Great Recession that hit Europe in 2008 pushed researchers towards a better understanding of the attitudinal and electoral consequences of the economic crisis. While some studies found a strong association between the worsening of the country economic conditions and the electoral punishment of incumbents - which benefitted radical and new parties, other proved convincingly that the Great Recession contributed to fuel political distrust. At the same time, the success of populist parties and the rise of new populist challengers has renewed the ongoing debate on the factors that explain why people vote for these parties. Among these theories, the protest voting model argues that people vote for a populist party as a way to express their distrust towards the established political parties. Although these strands of the literature provide a useful insight to understand the political consequences of the Great Recession and the success of populist parties in Europe, the relationship between the two phenomena is still understudied. This paper thus investigates the relationship between political distrust, the Great Recession and the populist voting. By relying on time-series cross-sectional data, through the paper I argue that political distrust had a direct impact on the success of populist parties. But, even more importantly, its impact on the populist voting was stronger after the Great Recession.
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