Skip to main content Accessibility help

Populism, Nationalism, and Party Politics

  • Sherrill Stroschein (a1)


Recent political events have forced an examination of ideologies of populism and nationalism in politics. In this piece, I examine literature on the post-2016 political context to illustrate why the rise of identity-based politics has surprised analysts. An understanding of identity-based parties requires a focus on both the forms by which they navigate electoral and party systems, and the content of their rhetorical appeals to publics. I consider the electoral and party systems literature, and indicate some reasons that majoritarian electoral systems are more likely to foster the dominance of identity-based politics. In such systems, large parties might become weaponized by extremist elements, and lack the potential for checks from new parties. In addition, presidential systems lack a mechanism for no confidence votes, and might also have weak checks on an extremist executive. In terms of content, populism and nationalism might draw differing boundaries to include or exclude perceived elites. However, they can otherwise align in terms of their stances against “Others,” and against individualistic or technocratic stances that may fall under the label of “liberalism.” Nationalism and populism are not simply ideologies, but can be used as strategies by elites who can successfully deploy these mobilizing rhetorical appeals.


Corresponding author

*Corresponding author. Email:


Hide All
Achen, Christopher, and Bartels, Larry. 2016. Democracy for Realists: Why Elections do not Produce Responsive Government. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Almond, Gabriel, and Coleman, James, eds. 1960. The Politics of the Developing Areas. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Anderson, Benedict. 1983. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. New York: Verso.
Arendt, Hannah. 1951. The Origins of Totalitarianism. New York: Harcourt and Brace.
Berman, Sheri. 1997. “Civil Society and the Collapse of the Weimar Republic.” World Politics 49 (3): 401429.
Berman, Sheri. 2008. “Taming Extremist Parties: Lessons from Europe.” Journal of Democracy 19 (1): 518.
Birnir, Jóhanna Kristin. 2007. Ethnicity and Electoral Politics. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Bonikowski, Bart, Halikiopolou, Daphne, Kaufmann, Eric, and Rooduijn, Mathijs. 2019. “Populism and Nationalism in a Comparative Perspective: A Scholarly Exchange.” Nations and Nationalism 25 (1): 5881.
Brubaker, Rogers. 2017. “Why Populism?Theory and Society 46: 357385.
Brubaker, Rogers. “Populism and Nationalism.” Nations and Nationalism. Published online ahead of print April 29, 2019. doi:10.1111/nana.12522.
Canovan, Margaret. 1999. “Trust the People! Populism and the Two Faces of Democracy.” Political Studies 47 (1): 216.
Caramani, Daniele. 2004. The Nationalization of Politics. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Chandra, Kanchan. 2004. Why Ethnic Parties Succeed: Patronage and Ethnic Head Counts in India. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Chibber, Pradeep K., and Kollman, Ken. 2004. The Formation of National Party Systems.Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Conner, Walker. 1994. “A Nation is a Nation, Is a State, Is an Ethnic Group, Is a….” In Ethnonationalism: The Quest for Understanding, 90117.Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Cramer, Katherine. 2016. The Politics of Resentment: Rural Consciousness in Wisconsin and the Rise of Scott Walker. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Csergő, Zsuzsa. 2007. Talk of the Nation: Language and Conflict in Romania and Slovakia. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Csergő, Zsuzsa. 2018. “Ethno-Nationalism and the Subversion of Liberal Democracy.” Ethnopolitcs 17 (5): 541545.
Dahl, Robert. 1971. Polyarchy: Participation and Opposition. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Dahl, Robert. 1989. Democracy and Its Critics. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Diamond, Larry. 1993. “Three Paradoxes of Democracy.” In The Global Resurgence of Democracy, edited by Diamond, Larry and Plattner, Marc, 95107. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Diamond, Larry, and Plattner, Marc, eds. 2006. Electoral Systems and Democracy. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Downs, Anthony. 1957. “An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy.” Journal of Political Economy 65 (2): 135150.
Gellner, Ernest. 1983. Nations and Nationalism. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Gidrón, Noam, and Bonikowski, Bart. 2013. “Varieties of Populism: Literature Review and Research Agenda,” Harvard University, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. Working Paper, no. 13-0004, 2013. (Accessed February 16, 2019.)
Goodwin, Matthew, and Heath, Oliver. 2016. “The 2016 Referendum, Brexit and the Left Behind: An Aggregate-Level Analysis of the Result.” The Political Quarterly 87 (3): 323332.
Gormley-Heenan, Cathy, and Ginty, Roger Mac. 2008. “Ethnic Outbidding and Party Modernization: Understanding the Democratic Unionist Party’s Electoral Success in the Post-Agreement Environment.” Ethnopolitics 7 (1): 4361.
Greenfeld, Liah. 1993. Nationalism: Five Roads to Modernity. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Haughton, Tim, and Krause, Kevin Deegan. 2015. “Hurricane Season: Systems of Instability in Central and East European Party Politics.” East European Politics and Societies and Cultures 29 (1): 6180.
Horowitz, Donald. Ethnic Groups in Conflict. 1985. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Huntington, Samuel. 1968. Political Order in Changing Societies. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA). 2005. Electoral System Design: the New International IDEA Handbook. (Accessed February 16, 2019.)
Inglehart, Ronald. 1971. “The Silent Revolution in Europe: Intergenerational Change in Post-Industrial Societies.” American Political Science Review 65 (4): 9911017.
Inglehart, Ronald, and Norris, Pippa. 2017. “Trump and the Populist Authoritarian Parties: The Silent Revolution in Reverse.” Perspectives on Politics 15 (2): 443454.
Jenne, Erin K. 2018. “Is Nationalism or Ethno-Populism on the Rise Today?Ethnopolitics 17 (5): 546552.
Kaltwasser, Cristóbal Rovira. 2014. “The Responses of Populism to Dahl’s Democratic Dilemmas.” Political Studies 62 (3): 470487.
Kann, Robert, and David, Zdeněk. 1984. The Peoples of the Eastern Hapsburg Lands, 1526–1918. Seattle: University of Washington Press.
Katz, Richard, and Mair, Peter. 2009. “The Cartel Party Thesis: A Restatement.” Perspectives on Politics 7 (4): 753766.
Kitschelt, Herbert. 1992. “The Formation of Party Systems in East Central Europe.” Politics and Society 20 (1): 750.
Kostovicova, Denisa. 2019. Comment on roundtable, “Thirty Years Since 1989: Europe Still Divided?” CEEISA-ISA Joint International Conference, University of Belgrade, June 17, 2019.
Kreisi, Hanspeter. 2014. “The Populist Challenge.” West European Politics 37 (2): 361378.
Laakso, Markku, and Taagepera, Rein. 1979. “’Effective Number of Parties:’ A Measure with Application to West Europe.” Comparative Political Studies 12 (1): 327.
Levy, Jacob T. 2017. “The Party Declines.” Niskanen Center Blog. January 18. (Accessed February 16, 2019.)
Lijphart, Arend. 1986. “Degrees of Proportionality of Proportional Representation Formulas.” In Electoral Laws and Their Political Consequences, edited by Grofman, Bernard and Lijphart, Arend, 170179. New York: Agathon Press.
Lijphart, Arend. 1993. “Constitutional Choices for New Democracies.” In The Global Resurgence of Democracy, edited by Diamond, Larry and Plattner, Marc, 146158. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Lijphart, Arend. 1999. Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performance in Thirty-Six Countries. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Linz, Juan. 1975, 2000. Totalitarian and Authoritarian Regimes. Boulder, CO: Lynne Reiner Publishers.
Lipset, Seymour, and Rokkan, Stein. 1967. Party Systems and Voter Alignments: Cross-National Perspectives. New York: The Free Press.
Mair, Peter. 2013. Ruling the Void: The Hollowing of Western Democracy. London: Verso.
Mason, Lilliana. 2018. Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Moffitt, Benjamin. 2016. The Global Rise of Populism: Performance, Political Style, and Representation. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Mudde, Cas. 2004. “The Populist Zeitgeist.” Government and Opposition 39 (4): 541563.
Mudde, Cas. 2007. Populist Radical Right Parties in Europe. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Mudde, Cas. 2019. “Why Copying the Populist Right Isn’t Going to Save the Left,” The Guardian, May 14.
Müller, Jan-Werner. 2014. “The Party’s Over,” review of Peter Mair’s Ruling the Void. London Review of Books 36 (10), May 22: 3537. (Accessed February 16, 2019.)
Müller, Jan-Werner. 2017, What Is Populism? New York: Penguin.
Müller, Jan-Werner. 2019. “False Flags: The Myth of the Nationalist Resurgence.” Foreign Affairs, March/April.
O’Dwyer, Conor. 2014. “What Accounts for Party System Stability? Comparing the Dimensions of Party Competition in Postcommunist Europe.” Europe-Asia Studies 66 (4): 511535.
Pop-Eleches, Grigore. 2010. “Throwing out the Bums: Protest Voting and Unorthodox Parties after Communism.” World Politics 62 (2): 221260.
Pirro, Andrea L. P. 2018. “Understanding Populism: What Role Do Crises Play in the Growth of Euroskepticism?” LSE EUROPP Blog, June 6. (Accessed February 16, 2019.)
Reynolds, Andrew, Reilly, Ben, and Ellis, Andrew. 2005. Electoral System Design: The New International IDEA Handbook. Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance: (Accessed June 25, 2019.)
Roodujin, Matthijs, and Akkerman, Tjitske. 2017. “Flank Attacks: Populism and Left-Right Radicalism in Western Europe.” Party Politics 23 (3): 193204.
Rosenbluth, Frances McCall, and Shapiro, Ian. 2018. Responsible Parties: Saving Democracy from Itself. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Saideman, Steve. 2015. “Why Do We Care about Ethnic Outbidding?” Saideman’s Semi-Spew (Blog), December 9. (Accessed June 25, 2019.)
Sartori, Giovanni. 1976. Parties and Party Systems: A Framework for Analysis. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Sartori, Giovanni. 1994. Comparative Constitutional Engineering: An Inquiry into Structures, Incentives, and Outcomes. New York: New York University Press.
Schmitter, Philippe, and Karl, Terry Lynn, “What Democracy Is… And is Not.” 1993. In The Global Resurgence of Democracy, edited by Diamond, Larry and Plattner, Marc, 3952. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Schwedler, Jillian. 2011. “Can Islamists Become Moderates? Rethinking the Inclusion-Moderation Hypothesis.” World Politics 63 (2): 347376.
Sikk, Allan. 2009. “Parties and Populism.”Centre for European Politics, Society, and Integration (CEPSI), School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES), UCL. Working Paper2009-2.
Sikk, Allan. 2011. “Newness as a Winning Formula for New Political Parties,” Party Politics 18 (4): 465486.
Smith, Anthony D. 1986. The Ethnic Origins of Nations. Cambridge: Blackwell Publishers.
Snyder, Jack, and Ballentine, Karen. 1996. “Nationalism and the Marketplace of Ideas.” International Security 21 (2): 540.
Snyder, Jack. 2000. From Voting to Violence: Democratization and Nationalist Conflict. New York: W. W. Norton.
Stanley, Ben. 2008. “The Thin Ideology of Populism.” Journal of Political Ideologies 13 (1): 95110.
Stokes, S. C. 1999. “Political Parties and Democracy.” Annual Review of Political Science 2: 243267.
Stroschein, Sherrill. 2012. Ethnic Struggle, Coexistence, and Democratization in Eastern Europe. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Stroschein, Sherrill. 2016. “Ethnic Conflict: Looking Inside Groups.” Ethnopolitics 16 (1): 7481.
Stroschein, Sherrill. 2017. “Tempo, Protest, and Emergency Ethnography in the Trump Moment.” Duck of Minerva (Blog), January 31. (Accessed August 20, 2019.)
Tilly, Charles. 2003. The Politics of Collective Violence. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Tismaneanu, Vladimir. 1996. “The Leninist Debris or Waiting for Perón.” East European Politics and Societies 10 (3): 504535.
Tismaneanu, Vladimir. 1998. Fantasies of Salvation. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Cott, Van, Lee, Donna. 2005. From Movements to Parties in Latin America. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Vasiliopolou, Sofia. 2009. “Varieties of Euroskepticism: The Case of the European Extreme Right.” Journal of Contemporary European Research 5 (1): 323.
Wimmer, Andreas. 2019. “Why Nationalism Works, And Why it Isn’t Going Away.” Foreign Affairs, March/April.


Populism, Nationalism, and Party Politics

  • Sherrill Stroschein (a1)


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed