Working Papers

Magistro, B. and Menaldo, V., Exploring Economic Populism, a Neglected, but Growing, Phenomenon

Available here

What is the relationship between economic crises and populism? Once almost exclusively the domain of Latin Americanists, the study of populism has emerged as a leading research agenda for scholars who study Europe and the US. However, researchers have hitherto failed to systematically account for the logic of economic populism and the fact that populists emanating from either the left or the right tend to converge on a similar political economic model: protectionism, crony capitalism, and inveterate rent seeking. We provide a framework to make sense of this pattern and explain the systematic, mutually reinforcing association between crises and populism. We also adduce supporting evidence from very different places, Argentina, Chile, Greece, and Italy, and across disparate time periods. We argue that populism almost always threatens both liberal democracy and welfare state capitalism and ushers in economic collapse. We posit that a key reason for this is that, rather than seeing economic interactions as “win-win” situations, populists are obsessed with zero-sum thinking. We also speculate about what might be in store for European politics in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Magistro, B. and Wittstock, N., The rise and fall of anti-immigration parties in Italy: changes in immigration preferences and issue salience (R&R)

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In many European countries, the recent electoral success of far-right parties coincided with increased immigration throughout the 2000s. While some have argued that these parallel trends suggest that immigration sours public opinion towards foreigners, a growing literature notes that immigration preferences remained stable. According to others, rising immigration activates related preferences politically, inducing people to vote based on their opinions on this issue. In this paper, we investigate the overlooked case of Italy, which has featured anti-immigration parties for decades. Using ITANES data, we find that immigration preferences remained stable throughout the 2000s but that the political salience of immigration varied considerably, closely tracking the anti-immigration vote. We find that anti-immigration voters are more likely to vote for an anti-immigrant party when immigration is a high- (rather than low-) salience issue to them, suggesting that issue-salience, rather than changing preferences, drives the electoral success of the far-right in Italy