How Populist are the People? Measuring Populist Attitudes in Voters
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SourceComparative Political Studies, 47, 9, (2014), pp. 1324-1353
17 maart 2014
Article / Letter to editor
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Comparative Political Studies
SubjectDistributional Conflicts in a Globalizing World: Consequences for State-Market-Civil Society Arrangements
The sudden and perhaps unexpected appearance of populist parties in the 1990s shows no sign of immediately vanishing. The lion’s share of the research on populism has focused on defining populism, on the causes for its rise and continued success, and more recently on its influence on government and on public policy. Less research has, however, been conducted on measuring populist attitudes among voters. In this article, we seek to fill this gap by measuring populist attitudes and to investigate whether these attitudes can be linked with party preferences. We distinguish three political attitudes: (1) populist attitudes, (2) pluralist attitudes, and (3) elitist attitudes. We devise a measurement of these attitudes and explore their validity by way of using a principal component analysis on a representative Dutch data set (N = 600). We indeed find three statistically separate scales of political attitudes. We further validated the scales by testing whether they are linked to party preferences and find that voters who score high on the populist scale have a significantly higher preference for the Dutch populist parties, the Party for Freedom, and the Socialist Party.
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