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ECPR Standing Group on the European Union 10th Biennial Conference LUISS, Rome

The Emotional Economy of Austerity: Affect in the World of Populism

European Union
Political Psychology
Survey Experiments
Theofanis Exadaktylos
University of Surrey
Theofanis Exadaktylos
University of Surrey
Roula Nezi
University of Surrey

To what extent do individual emotions shape blame-attribution towards the European Union and affect the way people consume populist rhetoric from their national governments? We employ a vignette social experiment where stories represent real situations (leaders' official statements on austerity in Greece) to elicit voters' preferences and judgments towards austerity. This helps us ascertain the degree of influence of emotions on the framing of austerity policy; whether populism speaks to segments of the population experiencing particular emotions; whether emotions of anger and fear shape attitudes towards austerity and the EU; and whether civic populism (Mudde & Kaltwasser 2013) acts as a medium for successfully shifting blame towards the EU taking advantage of the emotional economy of the public. Our preliminary findings suggest that anger and fear can help explain anti-EU sentiments when the EU is introduced as an external threat in the minds of people, but there is a distinction in the way these two emotions are invoked based on egocentric versus sociotropic issues.
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