S-Space Graduate School of International Studies (국제대학원) Dept. of International Studies (국제학과) Journal of International and Area Studies (JIAS) Journal of International and Area Studies vol.28 (2021)
Do Populist Parties Increase Civic Political Participation? Empirical analysis of 30 countries in Europe
- Soonhwan Kwon
- Issue Date
- Institute of International Affairs, Graduate School of International Studies, Seoul National University
- Journal of International and Area Studies, Vol.28 No.1, pp. 73-98
- Does a populist party increase civic political participation? This paper aims to contribute to the debate among scholars on whether populism serves to correct the limits of representative democracy by increasing civic political participation. Prior studies dealing with this question have conducted empirical studies by using voter turnout as a dependent variable. However, the prior studies overlook the fact that there are many other ways of political participation by citizens besides voting. To fill the gap, this paper empirically tested the relationship between populist parties and six different ways of political participation as dependent variables (participating in party or action group, participating in organization or association. wearing some political symbols (badge, sticker), public demonstration, petition signing and boycotting). The results are ambivalent. Generally, there is no evidence that the increase of civic political participation by populist parties is a universal phenomenon. However, when analyzed on more micro-level, there are results that can derive several implications. First, when left populist parties are represented in a parliament, the participation in boycotting increases. It might be related to the fact that boycotting movements are mostly associated with progressive agendas. Second, in the Central-Eastern Europe (CEE), when populist parties are represented in a parliament and their vote share in last election is higher, there is a significant impact on the participation in association or organization. Third, in Western Europe, populist parties increase the participation in party or action group when they are represented in a parliament. These regional differences seem to stem from differences of political culture in that citizens in CEE do not prefer party unlike Western Europe, where citizens are familiar with party and action group. Finally, the higher the number of seats in all populist parties, the more likely they are to participate in public demonstration. But the effect is so small that it is difficult to judge whether there is a meaningful relationship. These findings ask subsequent research to explore how different political cultures and ideological differences of populist parties make differences in the impact of populist parties on civil society.