DP11871 Populism: Demand and Supply

Author(s): Luigi Guiso, Helios Herrera, Massimo Morelli, Tommaso Sonno
Publication Date: February 2017
Date Revised: November 2018
Keyword(s): anti-elite rhetoric, economic insecurity, populism, Voter participation
JEL(s):
Programme Areas: Macroeconomics and Growth
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=11871

Using individual data on voting and political parties manifestos in European countries, we study the drivers of voting for populist parties (the demand side) as well as the presence of populist parties (the supply side). We show that economic insecurity drives the demand for populism when considering the key interactions with turnout incentives, neglected in previous studies. Economic insecurity drives consensus to populist policies directly and indirectly by causally destroying trust in politics and fostering adverse attitudes towards immigrants. On the supply side, populist parties emerge more likely when countries are faced with a systemic crisis of economic security. The orientation choice of populist parties, i.e., whether they arise on left or right of the political spectrum, is determined by the availability of political space. Mainstream parties response is to reduce the distance of their platform from that of successful populist entrants, amplifying the aggregate supply of populist policies.