Seminar Matthijs Rooduijn – Populist Parties as Mobilizers of Discontent
Tainted by Office? Populist Parties as Mobilizers of Discontent
Populist parties are often conceived of as ‘mobilizers of discontent’. They either attract voters who are dissatisfied with the political status-quo, or they fuel distrust among those who already support them. In this paper, we argue and demonstrate that populist parties cease to be mobilizers of discontent when they are in power. Based on three different studies, and employing both cross-sectional and panel data, we show that the association between political discontent and support for populists is contingent on whether or not a populist party is in office. We demonstrate that the discontent-populism linkage evaporates when a populist party enters a government coalition, and resurfaces again when it leaves office. In addition, we analyse support-switching patterns and individual-level attitudinal changes to explore the mechanisms underlying these patterns. Our findings have important implications for our understanding of populist parties, their evolution, and the impact they have on liberal-democratic party systems.
Dr. Matthijs Rooduijn is a political sociologist in the Department of Political Science at the University of Amsterdam.