Why are Populist Parties so Successful in the EU?

Populist movements
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The June 2024 European Elections will see once again a competition between mainstream parties and populist, or nativist movements. 

Since the Brexit referendum in 2016, scholars, journalists, and policymakers have debated where this populist rise originates from. 

Research on the rise of populism has largely neglected the explanation populists themselves provide: they allegedly fill "political representation gaps" - differences between the policy-making by mainstream parties and the will of "the people." 

Laurenz Guenther has studied the responses of about 27,000 citizens and 1,000 parliamentarians from 27 European countries to identical survey policy questions. 

He finds that, while policymaking represents the economic attitudes of citizens relatively well, there exist large representation gaps on cultural issues in nearly all European countries.

Part of their cause seems to be that party members who are relatively educated and hold liberal moral values are more likely to become parliamentary candidates. 

Laurenz Guenther will discuss his findings and their implications in the forthcoming European elections with Stephanie Hoffman, a professor of International Relations at EUI.


Laurenz Guenther is a postdoctoral research fellow at Bocconi University and an IEP@BU fellow. 

Stefano Feltri is the IEP@BU communication advisor. 

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Why are Populist Parties so Successful in the EU?​

IEP@BU does not express opinions of its own. The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. Any errors or omissions are the responsibility of the authors.

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