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Introduction

No current issue holds more controversy in academic, journalistic or analytical thought than populism — both in its origins and consequences. The definition of the term itself invokes debate. Theorists from various branches of political and economic thought have set out to analyse the issue, each reaching a conclusion that opposes another. The most interesting aspect of this recent debacle is the joining of Political Science and Economic Science in perfect harmony to study the rise of populism and its role today. Renowned academics of very different fields have carried out arid debates about whether it is a socio-political, socio-economic, cultural phenomenon, or something completely different that has never been experienced until now. Predominant consensus affirms that it has always existed, only in different and varied formats which change according to the economic conditions and the cultural currents of each era. Therefore, to compare it with populist movements of the past would be an analytical error, one that has occasionally been committed. In other words, current left-wing populism is not comparable to communism, nor right-wing populism to fascism. This oversimplification, often promoted by the media, has only polarized the political arena and divided many European countries such as France, Italy, the United Kingdom, and most recently Spain.

Throughout this investigative article, we will base our arguments on internationally recognized works and develop a comparative policy, supported by economic analysis, to confront the materialist and post-materialist arguments that comprise the debate over the causes of populism. The analysis will not be country-specific, although allusions to specific cases will be included to achieve a broader and more global perspective.

We will begin by establishing one concrete definition of populism in order to accurately quantify its political rise. Afterwards, we will analyse the different types of existing populism, its root causes, whether it is a multi-causal phenomenon, and finally, its effects on the cohesion of modern society and implications for economic development. Maintaining the post-1945 liberal democratic order largely depends on our ability to confront movements such as these that break and endanger our societies.

Populism, the great stranger

As mentioned in the introduction, this research article will implement the definition of populism established by the academic Cas Mudde [1], as its comprehensive origin meets our analytic purposes. Mudde defines populism as “an ideology that considers society to be ultimately separated into two homogenous and antagonistic groups, ‘the pure people’ and the ‘corrupt elite,’ and which argues that politics should be an expression of the volonté general (general will of the people).”

Following this author’s reasoning, the main characteristics of populism are monism and moralism; it is the division of society into two groups — “the people” and “the elite” — which are distinguished by their intrinsic morality. Populists, according to Mudde, claim a monopoly on defending the interests of “the people” against the “private interests” of the elite, who are the enemies of the populists. Mudde makes a vitally important observation: the names of both sides can change, becoming “rural” vs “cosmopolitan”, “nationalists” vs “globalists”, etc. He points out no matter what the name of the two groups, the division will always be contrived by populist politicians in order to group citizens and earn revenue from it.

On the other hand, Mudde emphasizes populism as a very narrow-minded ideology. In other words, it does not focus on the most important problems in society, only on the most conflictive attacks that gain the most media attention.

As previously explained, we will analyse both left-wing and right-wing populism. Here, Professor Mudde emphasizes that practically any populist movement from the right will have a strong nationalist and anti-globalist character, while the one from the left will include elements of neo-socialism along with key ideologies of postmaterialism.

Finally, in conceptualizing populism, Mudde indicates that its present state does not compare to the extremist ideologies of the 20th century, such as fascism and communism, which are much more pernicious. He adds that, although populism today often poses a challenge to the institutional structure of liberal democracies, it should not fall into the reductio ad absurdum of comparing it with the totalitarianisms of the last century.

This definition does not contradict that of other academics, such as Dornbusch and Edwards [2], who provide an explanation on purely economic and materialistic bases. They view populists as those who make economic policy promises that are impossible to keep, but who obtain electoral revenue by presenting to voters the (unfeasible) possibility of reaching said promises.

Studies of the cultural and/or economic roots of populism often lead to radically different conclusions. Such is the case of Norris and Inglehart [3], who focus their analysis on a question of “cultural confrontation” at the intergenerational level. Their theory attempts to show how a “silent revolution,” which has been developing over the last decades, has managed to change the understanding of the younger generations; they have gone from being profoundly materialistic (in Marxist terminology) to staunch defenders of post-materialism — focusing above all on cultural secularization, collective autonomy, and racial, sexual and religious diversity, promoted through the vindication of organised minorities. As traditional parties have been more absent in spreading these ideas, populists have found in the younger cohorts a single market niche from which to extract abundant votes. However, Norris and Inglehart oversimplify this phenomenon by arguing that age is an isolated factor, and that older people will become increasingly conservative (we also do not share their definition of conservatism). They argue that these generations change political preferences and modify their ideological framework according to one endogenous variable: the passage of time. For this reason, according to these professors, right-wing populism of a nationalist nature generally has more significance among older voters.

Other authors such as Dani Rodrik [4], a renowned economist and expert in international trade and globalization, argues that over the last decade, economic factors have been gaining importance in generating various types of populism. Likewise, he believes that the “production function” of populism is multivariable, and that economic and cultural root causes are not mutually exclusive, since economic shocks amplify the cultural and social differences of the groups that make up the political and social structure of modern democracies.

Another point of view in the conceptualization and definition of the term “populism” —reflected in one of his most recent books — has been developed by Barry Eichegreen [5], a well-known economic historian and professor of Economics and Political Science. He concludes his research with the idea that populism includes essential characteristics of both authoritarianism and nativism. He also warns of the danger that it poses for supranational cooperation, referring to all the multilateral institutions that have developed over the past 30 years and that have provided greater collaboration between countries while reducing the number of armed conflicts across the globe. Eichegreen considers populism to be a purely anti-elite movement, focused on ending the institutions proper to liberal democracies, which begins by slowly destroying the separation of powers inherent in them.

Populism as a Phenomenon – socioeconomic or sociopolitical?

During the last few years, with the emergence of the alt-right, Europe’s incorporation of Latin American left-wing populism, and other complex political phenomena (such as Brexit), the populism debate has focused solely on short term factors (the great recession of 2008, more immigration from the Eastern countries to the United Kingdom in the last five years, recent boom in “one-nation” conservatism …). However, the long-term trend of multifaceted populism has been absent from analysation. Where does it come from and where is it going?

Each type of populism is backed by hundreds of authors and promoters. In order to understand it as a political, economic, and social movement, we must decipher the roots of each principal branch. This is the only way to introduce proposals that will effectively keep these parties away from our parliamentary arc.

Populism, being a generally anti-elite movement with authoritarian aspirations and opposed to multilateralism, in turn presents diverse tendencies, as previously indicated. Leftist populism tends to highlight inequality as vertical inequality, and emphasizes its political as well as economic nature, as recently alleged by the US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez [6]. On the other hand, right-wing populism charges its message with anti-immigration discourse and opposes minorities that fail to comply with the most traditionalist principles. Right-wing populists mourn the loss of classic conservative values, and react with hostility to try to prevent these groups from breaking into the framework of political power.

Economic analyses tend to oversimplify the populist movement, mostly because they ascribe any social disruptions over economic issues in recent years to inequality. Interventionist economists and political scientists use this argument to propose measures such as a massive redistribution of wealth at a global level, a world tax on financial transactions, or a general taxation on inheritances. Joseph Stiglitz [7], one such advocate, attributes the current political unrest to an alleged failure of neoliberalism. However, many of these theorists forget two very important factors.

First, what is relevant is not only the actual reduction of inequality, but the perception that people have of it. As the economist Sebastian Edwards recently pointed out in an article for Voxeu, one of the main causes of the street uprisings in Chile at the end of last year did not stem from real levels of inequality, but from the impression (in this case false) that people harboured. Based on the data from the Inter-American Development Bank [8], from 2000 to 2016 (the latest recorded date), inequality decreased by the third highest rate of any other country in its continent. It decreased by 9.5 points (out of 100) on the GINI index, where the median reduction is at 7 points. But what is the perception of the average Chilean in this regard? To find out, we looked to a macro-survey [9] carried out in each Latin American country by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), which measures the perspective of nationals. According to these results, the average Chilean believes that from 2000-2016, income inequality in his country increased by more than 6 points in the GINI index. In other words, the estimation error of the average citizen exceeds 15.5 points. Furthermore, if we look at the data, we can observe that inequality has declined at the fourth highest rate of all of all other countries since 2000, while its inhabitants place it as the fourth least improved, as shown the following graphs. An overwhelming dystopia.

Graph 1. Reduction of inequality (variation of the GINI Index 2000-2016)

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Source: IDB [10]

Graph 2. Change in the perception of inequality

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Source: ECLAC [11]

This narrative and its resulting perceptions of reality, which are often false, spark populist movements worldwide. Therefore, populism cannot be studied according to only one area of thought, since both cultural and economic factors take part in the generation of the public perspective. In many cases, a simple redistributive policy would not help mitigate the influence of these parties. It is extremely difficult for empirical data to overcome the populist narrative. Over time, as populist views continued to consolidate and gain strength, parties calling themselves “antisystem” have been institutionalised, as in the case of Unidas Podemas entering Spanish Government.

According to Francis Fukuyama’s thesis in Identity [12], current populism is a derivative of identity politics — many of them racist, classist, and post-materialist — which divide society into two homogeneous groups, and present conflicting interests to both sides. Fukuyama notes that these “culture wars” are nothing new, describing their historical trend in countries like the US, where racial and minority marginalization has, unfortunately, been very present.

Another relevant case was the resolution to leave the EU during the 2016 Brexit referendum, and the subsequent ratification of this desire in the recent general elections. Boris Johnson won the greatest victory of the Conservative Party since 1987, promoting messages that were markedly pro-leave, predominantly populist, and accompanied by often unfeasible proposals, as highlighted in innumerable articles by the State commercial technician and economist Enrique Feás [13].

The aforementioned Pippa Norris and Ronald Inglehart point to the populist discourse as Brexit’s engine, saturated through the older generations. Meanwhile, both researchers argue that the younger generations possess higher levels of material wealth, education, and greater security than their parents in many aspects. This has caused many of them to abandon materialistic political tendencies of the past such as classical Marxism, economic protectionism (mercantilism), etc. Instead, they have turned to post-materialist ideological tendencies such as neo-Marxism, queer socialism, progressive social democracy, and even, in some cases, the identitarian movement. They are dedicated to the cultural battle and distanced from both traditional right and the left, which focus more on the economy and less on current sociocultural issues.

Returning to the Brexit issue from the comparative politics model used by Norris and Inglehart [14], the British phenomenon is one of intergenerational political confrontation, as opposed to interregional (as most believe). Young people have spent more time outside their country than their parents, thanks to programmes like Erasmus +, and have traveled more extensively due to low-cost travel provided by companies like EasyJet or Ryanair. Youths dominate more foreign languages on average, which motivates global vision extending beyond their own country. Other authors such as Jonathan Haidt [15] support an idea backed by numerous psychological studies that, with the passage of time, people become more closed-minded — referring to a less malleable vision of the world — and are more inflexible in the face of third party opinions. Over the years, according to Haidt, people display greater risk aversion (both financial and personal), preferring to have everything under control, which makes them more attracted to parties of social-conservative nature.

If Norris and Inglehart’s investigations are truly applicable to political reality, these interpretations should corroborate with the evidence presented in Brexit. To determine this, we will employ one of the largest sociological studies carried out to date in the United Kingdom. This study by YouGov presents a historical series of data related to the (obviously anonymous) political affiliation of citizens, analyzing different distributions of people (by income deciles, by age, by place of residence, etc.). The survey was renewed in the days leading up to each general election, thus reflecting the volatility of electoral processes over time, and depicting the political trends of society. For the UK general elections of December 12, 2019, 67% of youths ages 18-24 voted Labour or LibDem, while only 22% opted for the pro-Brexit Party. On the other hand, in the age range of 70 or over, only 25% opted for Labour or LibDem, while almost 70% voted Conservative or for the Brexit Party. The graph clearly depicts this tendency.

Nevertheless, all votes for Labour, LibDems or Conservatives were not exclusively motivated by Brexit; although it is true that these elections, and the UK political environment since 2016, have been largely dominated by this issue. Therefore, the last general elections constituted a general consensus of British public opinion about the exit from the EU, showing clear discrepancies by age range, and by the other analysable subgroups (gender, level of training, income …).

Graph 3. Vote by age. Percentage of 41.995 adults who voted in the 2019 general elections

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Source: YouGov [16]

In the present political environment, analysing date by age groups demonstrates that with the current regressive demographic trend in the United Kingdom, as the population ages, the British will become increasingly Eurosceptic. Neither an increase in productivity, a small reduction in inequality through redistributive policies, nor a greater coverage and security for the entire population would successfully reverse this trend. Moreover, with the introduction of the Eichegreen story line, such policies would even contribute to incentivizing it, since many would be labeled as success of “one-nation” conservatism. Because of this, Brexit, a phenomenon with populist roots, has been promoted practically in its entirety by cultural, ethnic, and identity arguments. This is what we would call a populist movement with sociocultural roots, one of the most complicated types of ideological combat.

What is “one-nation” conservatism?

Both political scientists and political economists have found socioculturally rooted populism (associated with right-wing populism, as opposed to the more economically rooted left-wing) to be a point of departure. The vast majority agree that this movement arises from the transformation of one-nation conservatism throughout the first two decades of the 21st century, a mutation of its ideological base which has had three major effects:

  • The appearance of new markedly populist parties associated with the political right, such as Vox in Spain.
  • The evolution of traditional parties from the liberal or Christian Democrat center-right to the populist, tribalist, and in many cases nationalist right, as seen in the cases of Fidesz and Viktor Orbán.
  • The rise of extroverted candidates in traditional parties whose message contains a touch of populism, such as Johnson and Donald Trump, although these two do not result in comparable cases.

As discussed, all of these share a common root — not one-nation conservatism itself, but the transformation it has undergone over the last decades, resulting in a different theory altogether. Let us taker a closer look.

While many liberals traditionally opposed the concept of one-nation conservatism, we must remember that, for many years, Thatcher and Reagan were patrons of economic liberalism. But this expression no longer means the same thing as it did then, nor is it interpreted in the same way. For example, Michael Heseltine used the term one-nation conservatism to advocate economic intervention in the United Kingdom and support European integration, which is completely contradictory a priori. Years later, David Cameron identified this ideological derivative as a defence of progressivism in the sociocultural sphere and of economic liberalism on the material level. Nowadays, one-nation conservatism is commonly related to the Eurosceptic sector of the British Conservatives, or to Trump in the USA; but at the time, Amber Rudd promoted a minority group called “One Nation Group” that focused on defending Europeanism within the Conservatives. This group intended to confront party Eurosceptics, such as Jacob Rees-Mogg. Recall that Johnson expelled 21 members of the One-Nation Group of the Conservatives, so they had to establish themselves as independent in the British Parliament.

As can be seen in the previous example, the same term holds several interpretations, and its theoretical definition [17] has oscillated dramatically.

Benjamin Disraeli was one of the first theorists to develop the word and use it in his writings. For Disraeli, one-nation conservatism represented the union between the different social classes in a common homeland, through shared sentiments. On the other hand, Lord Salisbury understood it a defence of the United Kingdom’s right to fight against Scottish and Irish nationalism. After this, Stanley Baldwin introduced the term in support of “civic patriotism,” in favour of uniting different social classes through patriotic sentiment. For Baldwin, the groups responsible for disruption were mainly the socialists, because they promoted class struggle, and the unions, who provoked people of the same social class against each other, marginalizing those outside of a group. As exemplified, the meaning with which Baldwin uses the term one-nation conservatism is closer to the practical application that Reagan and Thatcher gave it. On the other hand, Harold Macmillan used it in a wildly opposite manner to support the national welfare state and promote further intervention in the labour market, supposedly to protect British workers.

One-nation conservatism as currently interpreted and implemented by populist right-wing parties results in a mixture of conservative, and even traditionalist, policies in the social and cultural sphere. In the economic sphere, it results in interventionist and protectionist measures which border on mercantilism. To this definition, we must add a certain touch of nationalism, in the most tribal meaning of the word. Obviously, no current populist politician or right-wing party meets 100% of the characteristics described, which is why we previously mentioned that Johnson and Trump are not theoretically comparable.

In the last campaign for the UK general election, for example, we were able to see how the Tories fought to win back the vote of the northern England working class. The most cosmopolitan areas in the south already belonged largely to the Labour Party, while in more historically industrial regions, suffrage was much more divided; that is where the Conservatives focused on fighting. Furthermore, the Manifesto itself shows the clear message that intermingles citizen security, the nation as a basic pillar for the construction of society, the return to the classic conservative values ​​of the Tories, and a defence of the indigenous worker through purely interventionist policies, with great promises of increased spending concentrated in the National Health Service (NHS):

We will get Brexit done in January and unleash the potential of our whole country.

I guarantee:

Extra funding for the NHS, with 50,000 more nurses and 50 million more GP surgery appointments a year.

20,000 more police and tougher sentencing for criminals.

An Australian-style points-based system to control immigration.

Millions more invested every week in science, schools, apprenticeships and infrastructure while controlling debt.

Reaching Net Zero by 2050 with investment in clean energy solutions and green infrastructure to reduce carbon emissions and pollution.

We will not raise the rate of income tax, VAT or National Insurance.

Thank you for supporting our majority Conservative Government so we can move our great country on instead of going backwards.” [18]

As apparent, Johnson’s program is a defence of the United Kingdom’s social and territorial wellbeing against exogenous forces, mainly immigration and globilisation, which he sees as a threat to the country’s stability. And it is precisely this markedly populist and anti-liberal message that has prompted much of the electoral success it has reaped in the most conservative areas of northern England.

Socio-economic rooted populism, an old acquaintance

A large number of studies, like some included below, demonstrate through a variety of correlations over the same time period that, especially throughout the last two decades, an abundant number of populist movements have benefited from certain economic situations. Some such situations have been the great recession which began in 2008, the effects of globalisation on typically industrial areas of the United States, the outsourcing of certain economies due to this same globalisation process, the automation of many economic activities, etc. All of these have seriously impacted economics in certain sectors of society and specific groups of workers in the labour market. This has led to what economist Mancur Olson calls a situation of “diffused profits and concentrated costs.” Political scientists Iskander De Breuycker, Joost Berkhout and Marcel Hanegraaff, corroborated Olson’s theory in the paper The paradox of collective action: Linking interest aggregation and interest articulation in EU Legislative Lobbying [19]. In it, the specific case of the EU is addressed, but it is equally applicable to other instances of “regulatory capture” and effects of different pressure groups on public policies.

Olson’s theory explains how it is much easier to articulate a small group of people than a large one, leading to greater pressure on the regulator to be better organised and prepared. Olson shows that, in a small group of people who share the same interests in issues that are practically vital to them (agricultural lobbies, for example), coordination will be much greater and, therefore, more effective in negotiating conditions or public policies with the Government.

This is one of the reasons why, although the decrease in American exports — due to a greater trade flow (especially imports) with China since the start of the new millennium — has benefitted millions of Americans and harmed only a small number of organised groups, the latter, for the interests they represented, gained the spotlight of the 2016 election campaign. They were successful to the point that their votes turned the balance in the presidential elections of that year.

If we analyse these statements according to the empirical evidence, all of the data corroborates. The principal American states in the hands of Democrats in the years prior to 2016, which were most affected by the globalisation process (due to a higher density of manufacturing population), were Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. As Autor et al. [20] demonstrates, a quantitative correlation exists between the increased flow of Chinese imports to the US. and votes for Trump in these states. As the evidence cited shows, if Chinese imports had been 50% lower than they were preceding the election, the Republicans’ margin of victory would have fallen by 1.7% in Pennsylvania, causing Democrats to win by a 0.5% difference. Likewise, under that assumption, support for the Republican candidate would have decreased by 2.2% in Wisconsin and 1.8% in Michigan.

Regarding this type of phenomenon, relevant studies of European cases, such as that of Colantone and Stanig [21], show that the increase in the flow of imports from third countries (especially China) could even have had some effect on the vote in favour of Brexit in the United Kingdom due to short-term economic insecurity that, hypothetically, would have generated in some specific sectors, such as industrial workers in the north of England and parts of Scotland.

Throughout this comparative analysis, a priori it may seem that the theories which explain populism as an economic phenomenon contradict those that affirm that its cultural and/or social causes are more relevant to populism’s boom. But this is not the case at all; both theories complement each other perfectly. On the one hand, the post-materialist view attempts to explain how today’s dominant progressivism, urbanism and multiculturalism at a global level have engendered an intergenerational debate around cultural and social issues. In the face of all this, a right-wing Populist character has surged with a certain reactionary air in order to confront such visions. For its part, the materialistic perspective of society and the economy has tried to prove that leftist and extreme leftist populism is the result of an increase in inequality among citizens of the same country, as opposed to a reduction in inequality between different nations due to a much more globalized world, with deeply integrated value chains and levels of interconnection never before experienced.

In this political environment, economic crises have aggravated existing cultural and social divisions, creating arguments; in the economic sphere, populist parties seek to obtain political returns from social unrest, regardless of their inclination towards either side of the ideological spectrum.

If we look closely, we will realise that the populism of the last ten years has emerged specifically in developed countries with high per capita income. Some examples include the United Kingdom or the USA, but within this same group of global income distribution, we could also include Spain, and many other European countries like Germany, Italy and France. The question to be asked, then, is why precisely in places with a higher standard of living worldwide do anti-establishment political forces emerge, and why their message demands a reversal of the status quo.

In economic terms, although the recovery was faster in the US since 2008, and despite the fact that Europe took a little longer to recover acceptable growth rates and job creation, today the level of unemployment in the old continent is, on average, about 6%. This is similar to the 5% unemployment registered by the USA and the United Kingdom in 2016, when Trump was elected president, and the British, for the most part, voted to leave the EU. Therefore, there must be other economic causes, beyond the traditional ones, that have contributed to the climax of populism in the developed world.

The economists Lubos Pastor and Pietro Veronesi have investigated these alternative reasons [22]. In their recent paper they analyse how variations in levels of economic inequality and social mobility have factored into the rise of populism. Their main thesis is based on the fact that inequality increases in boom periods, because financial and real estate assets tend to grow at a faster rate then in contrast to the economy as a whole (GDP growth). His theory can be related to the famous r> g model of the French economist Thomas Piketty [23], which demonstrated how income from assets increases especially during times of abundance and economic stability.

What are the consequences and implications of populism?

Populist movements, specifically on the economic level, are distinguished for rejecting the budgetary and/or trade restrictions introduced by supranational organizations of which those countries are part. The most commonly attacked are independent regulatory agencies, central banks, and economic organizations such as the IMF, the World Bank, or the WTO. Economic populism entails budget irresponsibility, unsustainable policies in the long term, and sharp contractions in growth levels; therefore, in the standards of living of society as a whole. Populists often show a strong aversion to economic technocracy, because the policies extracted from the programmes of these parties only cover certain socio-economic interests in the very short term, which generates greater instability in the medium and long term — an aspect that regulatory agencies and independent government analyses tend to highlight.

A large part of the populist economic message today (Argentina is a clear example) is the constant protest against the different limitations of spending, levels of public debt, or inflation, implemented by multilateral organizations such as the IMF in certain countries to which they lend emergency funds for economic recovery.

Central banks, for their part, have played a key role in containing inflation since the 1980s, but have erred throughout the past decade, injecting too much liquidity into the markets and keeping yields from sovereign debt too low — mainly in the Eurozone, which have been (and are) more subject to QE policies. This has generated high inflation in financial and real estate assets, leading to greater macroeconomic and financial instability throughout the entire European continent, as the economist Daniel Lacalle shows in his book La Gran Trampa [24]. This has led some countries, such as Spain or Italy, to increase public debt levels with extreme ease to practically unsustainable limits.

Multilateral organisations responsible for resolving commercial disputes at the international level have also suffered serious weaknesses in their structure in recent years. On many occasions, this debilitation has been promoted by populist leaders such as Trump, who has arbitrarily paralyzed the nomination of judges responsible for the resolution of trade disputes in the WTO. If these institutions continue to weaken, the future of international trade will depend solely on certain particular interests of the States, and not on consumers as a whole.

Therefore, as observed, economic populism only leads to uncertainty, instability, and the most varied economic imbalances. In other words, it is a disintegration of societies, generating and promoting socio-economic conflicts in which feelings prevail over reason, which forms an intrinsic element of these political movements.

Conclusion

Populist trends, the vast majority configured in parties, have significantly transformed the political systems of the most advanced democracies over the last couple of decades. As demonstrated through this research exercise, the dimensions of this conflict have changed as well.

Traditionally, the political tirade between left and right was based on interests of an eminent economic nature, and framed on a largely materialistic level. Today, a new battle has emerged between a conservative, nationalist populism and a leftist, cosmopolitan, and progressive one. In many cases, these movements have managed to transform the discourse of the classical parties located on the same side of the political spectrum.

At a global level (although Spain constitutes an important and relevant exception), traditional social-democratic organizations have lost an immense amount of support, due to the fact that they have failed to position themselves correctly in the new “cultural war” that is taking place on the political European stage. The vast majority of new populist parties present themselves as citizen platforms and open to “the people,” whom they claim to defend through strong anti-elite and anti-establishment speeches.

As has been argued in this research, the rise of the new populism takes root in both socio-economic and a socio-cultural natures, which have different impacts but are both relevant to the success of these movements, depending on the country and the circumstances. In other words, there is no homogeneous and monocausal analysis that can be used for all the existing cases of political and/or economic populism.

In short, we can conclude that populism is a multi-causal sociopolitical tirade.


[1] Mudde, C (2020), Populism in the Twenty-First Century: An Illiberal Democratic Response to Undemocratic Liberalism. – University of Pennsylvania

[2] Dornbusch, R and S Edwards(1991), The Macroeconomics of Populism in Latin America- NBER.

[3] Norris, P and R Inglehart (2019), Cultural Backlash: Trump, Brexit, and Authoritarian Populism-Cambridge University Press.

[4] Rodrik, D (2018), Populism and the economics of globalization- Journal of International Business Policy, Harvard University.

[5] Eichengreen, B (2018), The Populist Temptation: Economic Grievance and Political Reaction in the Modern Era, Oxford University Press.

[6] Ocasio-Cortez To Billionaires: ‘Give Up Control And Power,’ ‘We Want Your Power’- Daily Wire (21/01/2020)- https://www.dailywire.com/news/ocasio-cortez-to-billionaires-give-up-control-and-power-we-want-your-power

[7] Stiglitz, J (2019), After Neoliberalism, Porject Syndicate- https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/after-neoliberalism-progressive-capitalism-by-joseph-e-stiglitz-2019-05?barrier=accesspaylog

[8] Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) (2016), “Statistics on poverty and income inequality in LAC (18 Countries): Inequality in the distribution of per capita income in LAC”, December.

[9] Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), CEPALSTAT. 

[10] FIGURA 1- Edwards, S, Chile’s Insurgency and the End of Neoliberalism, Voxeu.- https://voxeu.org/article/chile-s-insurgency-and-end-neoliberalism Source: IDB

[11] FIGURA 2- Íbid.

[12] Fukuyama, F., Identity: contemporary identity politics and the struggle for recognition.-London: Profile Books

[13] https://www.vozpopuli.com/enrique_feas/

[14] Norris, P and R Inglehart (2019), Cultural Backlash: Trump, Brexit, and Authoritarian Populism, Cambridge University Press. 

[15] Haidt, J (2013), The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, Vintage Books.

[16] FIGURA 3- https://yougov.co.uk/topics/politics/articles-reports/2019/12/17/how-britain-voted-2019-general-election

[17] The Economist (2020)- Boris Johnson is reinventing one-nation Conservatism. – https://www.economist.com/britain/2020/01/02/boris-johnson-is-reinventing-one-nation-conservatism

[18] Conservative Manifesto 2019- https://vote.conservatives.com/our-plan

[19] De Bruycker, I, J Berkhout, M Hanegraaff (2017) – The paradox of collective action: Linking interest aggregation and interest articulation in EU Legislative Lobbying

[20] Autor, D. D Dorn, G Hanson, K Majlesi (2016) .- A Note on the Effect of Rising Trade Exposure on the 2016 Presidential Election (Appendix to Autor, Dorn, Hanson, and Majlesi “Importing Political Polarization? The Electoral Consequences of Rising Trade Exposure”), Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

[21] Colantone, I and P Stanig (2018a), “Global competition and Brexit”, American Political Science Review 

[22] Pastor, L and P,Veronesi (2019)- Populism: Why in Rich Countries and in Good Times

[23] Piketty, T (2018), Brahim Left vs Merchant Right: Rising Inequality and the Changing Structure of Populist Conflict. Evidence from France, Britain and the US 1948-2017, WID Working Paper.

[24] Lacalle, D (2018)- La Gran Trampa, Deusto.


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