Social Base and Prospects of Populism in Western Countries

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2020-64-3-47-55
M. Klupt (,
St. Petersburg State University of Economics, 21, Sadovaya Str., St. Petersburg, 191023, Russian Federation

Abstract. The paper examines the reasons, mechanisms and prospects of the populist surge in Western countries. The cross-country analysis shows that both structural and sociocultural explanations of the populist surge are valid and complementary. Evidences suggest that support for the populist parties is the highest among blue-collar workers, low paid employees and less educated persons. It proves that the present-day rise of populism is a reincarnation of dissatisfaction with the ruling elites and dominant political system at low tiers of social hierarchy. While formerly such dissatisfaction led to voting for communists or social democrats, now it increasingly manifests itself in voting for populist parties and programmes. At the same time, horizontal diffusion and intergenerational transmission of attitudes contribute to a steady growth of support for write-wing populist parties in certain areas of France, Germany and Poland. While the young British, unlike older ones, usually eager to remain in the EU, a wider cross-country analysis does not allow to prognosticate a “natural death” of populism. Thus, the data from 1995 to 2017 reveals that in France, people in their thirties and forties vote for the National Front even more often than earlier. Support for populist parties is also the highest among middle-age voters in Italy, Germany and Sweden. This fact along with the higher prevalence of the populist support in certain social strata allows to expect relatively successful outcomes of populist parties and movements in the upcoming elections. Nevertheless, the rise of populism is limited by persistent disinclination of many well educated and middle-class voters to support populist parties and candidates. Given this, the political future of populist parties will depend on their ability to form coalitions and find allies both domestically and internationally.

Keywords: populist electorate, social stratification, dissatisfaction with system, anti-immigrant attitudes, cross-country analysis


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For citation:
Klupt M. Social Base and Prospects of Populism in Western Countries. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2020, vol. 64, no. 3, pp. 47-55.

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