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What Drives Populist Votes? Recent Insights and Open Questions


  • Thiemo Fetzer

    (Department of Economics, University of Warwick)

  • Robert Gold

    (University of Potsdam, IfW, and CESifo.)


This paper provides an overview on current research on the rise of populism in Europe. The focus is on economic developments that foster voting for populist parties and candidates. The paper argues that the simultaneity of macro-economic shocks from the financial crisis, globalization, and technological change increased inequality between skill and income groups. This increased the demand for populist policies amongst those on the losing side of economic development. Perceived distributional conflict was exacerbated by immigration and austerity policies. Economics alone, however, is not sufficient for explaining the large increases in electoral support of populists. While culture also plays a role, it is the individual voter who eventually decides whom to vote for. And populist parties are particular successful in developing strategies to attract voters that feel anxious about current and future economic developments.

Suggested Citation

  • Thiemo Fetzer & Robert Gold, 2019. "What Drives Populist Votes? Recent Insights and Open Questions," Working Papers 1, Forum New Economy, revised Oct 2019.
  • Handle: RePEc:agz:wpaper:1901

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    More about this item


    populism; protest voting; globalization; European Union;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • F5 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy
    • F6 - International Economics - - Economic Impacts of Globalization
    • H3 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents
    • H5 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies

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