Do Parties’ Representation Failures Affect Populist Attitudes? Evidence from a Multinational Survey Experiment

Bruno Castanho Silva (Corresponding author), Christopher Wratil

Publications: Contribution to journalArticlePeer Reviewed


The rise of populist forces in Western democracies is often linked to representation failures. However, to date we lack causally identified evidence for the effect of parties’ representation on populist attitudes. We address this lacuna through a survey experiment conducted in 12 European Union countries involving 23,257 subjects. Our experiment manipulates citizens’ perceptions of being represented by national parties in the 2019 European elections campaign, and identifies the effect of perceived representation on populist attitudes. The results reveal that poor representation increases populist attitudes in respondents that did not express such attitudes pretreatment, but has no effect among those who were already populist. We demonstrate that this effect is primarily due to parties’ representation failures triggering citizens’ anti-elite sentiment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalPolitical Science Research and Methods
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Oct 2021

Austrian Fields of Science 2012

  • 506014 Comparative politics

Cite this