Partisanship, elite messages, and support for populism in power

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Discontent is seen as a critical driver for the appeal of populism, yet studies have typically focused on cases of populism in opposition. We argue that scholars' emphasis on populism in opposition led them to overlook the roles of elite messages and partisanship in the adoption of populist attitudes. Drawing on theories of elite-driven public opinion, we contend that populist attitudes do not need to be rooted in discontent. In cases of populism in power, those who are more satisfied politically and economically, and partisans of the ruling party should display higher levels of populist attitudes. We provide observational and experimental survey evidence in this direction from Turkey, where a populist party has long been in power. We also find that the dominant characteristic of support for populism in power is an emphasis on popular sovereignty at the expense of institutions of horizontal accountability.




Aytac, S. E., Carkoǧlu, A., & Elci, E. (2021). Partisanship, elite messages, and support for populism in power. European Political Science Review, 13(1), 23–39.

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