Sociologist at London School of Economics

Recession Populism

Do changes in material circumstances drive support for populist radical parties? Panel data evidence from The Netherlands during the Great Recession, 2007–2015
European Sociological Review (forthcoming) with Noam Gidron

Political developments since the 2008 financial crisis have sparked renewed interest in the electoral implications of economic downturns. Research describes a correlation between adverse economic conditions and support for radical parties campaigning on the populist promise to retake the country from a corrupt elite. But does the success of radical parties following economic crises rely on people who are directly affected? To answer this question, we examine whether individual-level changes in economic circumstances drive support for radical parties across the ideological divide. Analyzing eight waves of panel data collected in The Netherlands, before, during, and after the Great Recession (2007–2015), we demonstrate that people who experienced an income loss became more supportive of the radical left but not of the radical right. Looking at these parties’ core concerns, we find that income loss increased support for income redistribution championed by the radical left, but less so for the anti-immigration policies championed by the radical right. Our study scrutinizes more directly than extant research the micro-foundations of support for radical parties across the ideological divide.

click for PDF | doi: 10.1093/esr/jcz023

featured in the The Monkey Cage (Washington Post), De Kanttekening and on Stuk Rood Vlees (podcast)