The Populist Marketplace: Unpacking the Role of “Thin” and “Thick” Ideology

Fabian Guy Neuner, Christopher Wratil

Publications: Contribution to journalArticlePeer Reviewed

Abstract

A growing body of work adopts a “thin” ideology conception of populism, which attributes populist parties’ electoral success to anti-elite and people-centric appeals that resonate with voters holding populist attitudes. A second tradition, however, has attributed the success of populist parties to particular “thick” or “host” ideologies, such as anti-immigration, anti-globalization, or pro-redistribution positions. This creates a need to unpack which exact components of thin and/or thick populist ideology attract voters to these parties. We address this question by leveraging conjoint survey experiments that allow us to causally identify the effects of several thin and thick populist attributes on vote choice. Examining the case of Germany, results from experiments embedded in two high-quality panel surveys demonstrate that populist anti-immigration and pro-redistribution positions as well as people-centric political priorities are the most vote-maximizing components of populist ideology. In contrast, anti-elite priorities as well as Eurosceptic and anti-globalization positions do not boost support, not even among voters with strong populist attitudes. Our findings also call into question conventional wisdom about the interplay between supply and demand in the electoral marketplace. Surprisingly, populist voters, in general, are not significantly more attracted to candidates who advocate populist priorities than non-populist voters.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)551-574
Number of pages24
JournalPolitical Behavior
Volume44
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022
Externally publishedYes

Austrian Fields of Science 2012

  • 506014 Comparative politics

Keywords

  • ATTITUDES
  • COMMUNICATION
  • Conjoint experiment
  • DISCOURSE
  • EUROPEAN INTEGRATION
  • Extremist parties
  • Germany
  • IMMIGRATION
  • ISSUE
  • MOBILIZATION
  • Populist attitudes
  • Populist voting
  • RADICAL RIGHT
  • RIGHT-WING PARTIES
  • SUPPORT

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