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APSA Panel on The Roots of the New Populism

  • Hilton Union Square San Francisco (map)

Panel: The roots of the new populism

Time: Fri, September 1, 4:00 to 5:30pm, Hilton Hotel, San Francisco

Paper authors: Pippa Norris and Ronald Inglehart

Cultural Backlash and the New Populism: Cohort, Period and Life-Cycle Effects

Abstract: Rising support for populist right parties has disrupted mainstream party competition in many Western societies. What explains this phenomenon? Several related demand-side theories are examined here.

The generation or cohort effect thesis suggests that mass support for populist right parties can be explained by long-term processes of cohort change common across post-industrial societies, in particularly by a cultural backlash among the older generation against progressive cultural changes that threatens the worldview of once-predominant sectors of the population.

Alternatively, the period effects thesis suggests that support for populist right parties is deepened and reinforced by major idiosyncratic shocks, including the financial crisis in 2007-8, the refugee and migration influx in Europe starting in 2014, and perceived risks of terrorism linked to events in Paris (2015), Nice (2016), and Brussels (March 2016).

Finally, the life-cycle thesis suggests that support for right-wing populism typically increases with as people grow older, if individuals gradually become more conservative, although this claim ideally needs panel data with repeated observations among the same individual respondents for analysis.

To consider these arguments, Part I develops the conceptual and theoretical framework. Part II of the study identifies and classifies populist right parties based on the ideological location of 268 political parties in 31 European countries using the 2009-2014 Chapel Hill Expert Survey (CHES). Part III employs new approaches to identifying Cohort, Period and Age effects (Yang and Land, 2013; Neundorf and Niemi 2014) seeking to disentangle period and cohort effects using longitudinal (repeated) cross-national survey evidence from the series of Eurobarometer surveys pooled from 1973 to 2016. The conclusion considers the implications.