The rise of populism is one of the most important political, social and economic phenomena in recent years, both in advanced and emerging economies. Depending on the definition, in the last ten years the European populists’ voting share in general elections increased by about 10 percentage points relative to the previous decade. In some countries, populists got elected and even re-elected.
While it is clear that the recent rise of populism is important, there is no consensus on why it has happened, why now, why in some countries and why not in others. There is no agreement whether it is actually a problem and why – and if it is a problem, what we should do about it. There is even no consensus on what populism actually is and how to measure it.
This is why CEPR started a Research and Policy Network on Populism and subsequently launched a VoxEU debate page on populism focusing on four broad questions:
(1) What is populism, how to define it and how to quantify its rise?
(2) What are the drivers of the recent rise of populism: cultural or economic, or the interaction between the culture and economics? Was it caused by secular trends or by one-off events such as the recent crisis? Was it related to the revolution in information and communications technologies?
(3) What are the implications of the rise of populism for economic growth, for other socio-economic outcomes including inequality, for political institutions? What do populists do once they are in power? How does their higher popularity affect policies if they are still not in power?
(4) Is the recent rise of populism a problem and if it is, what should be done about it?