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What unites the voter bases of populist parties? Comparing the electorates of 15 populist parties

  • Matthijs Rooduijn (a1)

Various scholars have argued and demonstrated that Western European populist parties have something in common. Although these parties adhere to various ideologies and employ different organizational forms and political styles, they all endorse a similar set of ideas concerning the relationship between the people and the elite. Yet despite our increasing knowledge about these parties, so far we know only very little about populist voters. Do the voter bases of populist parties also have something in common? To answer that question, I focus on the electorates of 15 prototypical populist parties from 11 Western European countries. I show that, in contrast with widely held beliefs, the electorates of populist parties do not always consist of individuals who are more likely to be ‘losers of globalization’ with Eurosceptic attitudes, low levels of political trust, and preferences for (more) direct democracy. This suggests that ‘the’ populist voter does not exist.

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