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ScholarOne - The Opportunistic Political Economy of Populism
  • Mitchell Orenstein,
  • Maria Snegovaya
Mitchell Orenstein
University of Pennsylvania

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Maria Snegovaya
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Recent literature on the political economy of populism hypothesizes that right-wing populist parties are “chameleons” that have no fixed socioeconomic positions and frequently change their colors as an electoral strategy. This paper deepens this inquiry by exploring not policy positions, but - a much more difficult test - how European right-wing populist parties in government affect macroeconomic outcomes such as openness and spending. Compiling a novel dataset, we find no consistent impact of incumbent right-wing populist parties in Europe on macroeconomic outcomes over the period 1991-2018, in line with expectations. However, in countries with pro-market left parties, right-wing populist parties systematically influence government spending and anti-globalization outcomes. The further left parties shift to the right, the more right-wing populist parties in Europe appeal to their working-class, anti-globalization electorate during this period. Right-wing populist parties may be opportunistic, but not indeterminate in their policy positions.
19 May 2023Submitted to Advance
18 Mar 2024Published in Advance