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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter November 29, 2006

Populism and the Ambivalence of Egalitarianism. How Do the Underprivileged Reconcile a Right Wing Party Preference with Their Socio-Economic Attitudes?

Anton Derks
From the journal World Political Science

This paper attempts to understand the phenomenon of so-called 'unnatural' voting (right-wing voting by lower-status groups). Most scholars explain this phenomenon with cultural motives, such as working-class authoritarianism, yet they assume that it contradicts their economic interests and motives. Although my findings corroborate the importance of working-class authoritarianism, I contend that a working-class vote for the right can also be explained by economic attitudes. Drawing on the theory of populism, I will examine the relationship between cultural attitudes (including authoritarianism and ethnocentrism) and economic rightist attitudes concerning social policy and the welfare state. Economic populism is characterised by egalitarianism as well as anti-welfarism. By addressing economic populism, right-wing parties are able to reconcile their discourse with the economic attitudes of lower status groups. The empirical relevance of this hypothesis is tested on the case of Flanders (Belgium).

Published Online: 2006-11-29

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