Consensus Democracy and Support for Populist Parties in Western Europe
Title: Consensus Democracy and Support for Populist Parties in Western Europe
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Ltd
Citation: Acta Politica, 2007, 42, 4, 401-420
Inspired by a previous debate in Acta Politica between Rudy Andeweg and Arend Lijphart on the pros and cons of consensus democracy, this article explores whether support for populist parties is traceable to the institutional framework of West European democracies. 'Populism' is conceptualized in terms of its emphasis on the antagonism between the people and corrupt elites, and its opposition to intermediary structures between the rulers and the ruled. We consider right-wing as well as left-wing populism. Two institutional dimensions - the executives-parties dimension and the federal - unitary dimension - are drawn from Lijphart's work to analyze the association between patterns of democracy and populism. Throughout, consensual systems are hypothesized to display higher support for populist parties than majoritarian systems. We show that the executives-parties dimension, which measures the diffusion of power within political institutions, indeed makes a difference for populist support. Moreover, unlike many similar studies on anti-system parties, this article also explores Lijphart's federal - unitary dimension and consequently finds that federal states are more conducive to populism than unitary states.
Subject: populism; consensus democracy; majoritarian democracy; federalism; West European politics
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