How populist attitudes scales fail to capture support for populists in power

Faculty/Professorship: Political Sociology  
Author(s): Jungkunz, Sebastian  ; Fahey, Robert A.; Hino, Airo
Title of the Journal: PloS ONE
ISSN: 1932-6203
Publisher Information: San Francisco, California, US : PLOS
Year of publication: 2021
Volume: 16
Issue: 12
Pages: e0261658
Language(s): English
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0261658
Populist attitudes are generally measured in surveys through three necessary and non-compensatory elements of populism, namely anti-elitism, people-centrism, and Manicheanism. Using Comparative Study of Electoral Systems Module 5 (2016–2020) data for 30 countries, we evaluate whether this approach explains voting for populist parties across countries in Asia, Europe and the Americas. We show that the existing scales of populist attitudes effectively explain voting for populists in countries where populist leaders and parties are in opposition but fail to explain voting for populist parties in countries where they are in power. We argue that current approaches assume “the elite” to mean “politicians”, thus failing to capture attitudes towards “non-political elites” often targeted by populists in office—in particular, journalists, academics/experts, bureaucrats, and corporate business leaders. The results reveal limits to the usefulness of existing survey batteries in cross-national studies of populism and emphasize the need to develop approaches that are more generalizable across political and national contexts.
GND Keywords: Populismus; Messung
Keywords: Psychological attitudes, Elections, Democracy, Populism, Governments, Europe, Asia, United States
DDC Classification: 320 Political Science  
RVK Classification: MF 3386   
Peer Reviewed: Ja
International Distribution: Ja
Open Access Journal: Ja
Type: Article
Release Date: 14. July 2022