Populist politics and pandemics: some simple analytics

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This paper formally models the rise in populist politics during the last decade.
In the literature the rise in populism is attributable both to cultural and
economic factors. Chief among the latter is the inequality engendered by
globalization and technical progress. When the plight of the marginalised is
ignored by mainstream centrist parties, populist challengers rush in
emphasizing cultural factors, invoking an enviable bygone past reminiscent of
the golden age of capitalism. In what follows we apply prospect theory, where
disenchanted individuals support populists because they promise to enact what
is desirable, even at the expense of harming their already disadvantaged economic
position. Support for populism depends upon the desirability of some of their
nationalist policies to an already pre-disposed vote bank, as well as the calculus
of meme verification. The model also incorporates political competition
between a populist challenger and a liberal politician, where memes and
messages are the strategic variables. It is postulated that nations ruled by
populists are more likely to suffer more greatly from pandemic shocks, due to
their public policies, except through serendipity or when the populist adopts
more benevolent authoritarian practices.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationDen Haag
PublisherInternational Institute of Social Studies (ISS)
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020

Publication series

SeriesISS working papers. General series


  • ISS Working Paper-General Series


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