Explaining the appeal of populist right-wing parties in times of economic prosperity

Mols, Frank and Jetten, Jolanda (2015) Explaining the appeal of populist right-wing parties in times of economic prosperity. Political Psychology, 37 2: 275-292. doi:10.1111/pops.12258

Author Mols, Frank
Jetten, Jolanda
Title Explaining the appeal of populist right-wing parties in times of economic prosperity
Journal name Political Psychology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1467-9221
Publication date 2015-03-26
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/pops.12258
Open Access Status
Volume 37
Issue 2
Start page 275
End page 292
Total pages 18
Place of publication Hoboken, NJ United States
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing
Collection year 2016
Language eng
Abstract The assumption that populist right-wing parties (PRWPs) thrive when the economy slows down is remarkably pervasive. What is often neglected is evidence showing PRWPs can thrive in times of economic prosperity. To examine this, we conducted an experiment in which participants were exposed to different appraisals of the future of the national economy and were subsequently asked to evaluate an anti-immigration speech (Study 1). Results showed stronger anti-immigrant sentiments when the national economy was presented as prospering rather than contracting. We then analyzed speeches by PRWP leaders who secured electoral victories during economic prosperity (Study 2) and found that these leaders encourage a sense of injustice and victimhood by portraying ordinary citizens as the victim of an alliance between powerful groups (the elite) and less powerful groups (refugees, immigrants, minorities). More specifically, Study 2 showed that PRWP leaders are crafty identity entrepreneurs who are able to turn objective relative gratification into perceived relative deprivation. We conclude that it is hence problematic to treat PRWP support as evidence of “resonance” with public sentiments and urge PRWP scholars interested in supply-side factors to engage with the social identity literature on leadership, followership, and social influence.
Keyword Populist right-wing parties
Supply-side factors
Social identity
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Early view of article.

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2016 Collection
School of Political Science and International Studies Publications
School of Psychology Publications
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