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«Stijn Theodoor van Kessel University of Sussex Thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy July, 2011 ii I hereby declare that this ...»

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Supply and Demand

Identifying Populist Parties in Europe and

Explaining their Electoral Performance

Stijn Theodoor van Kessel

University of Sussex

Thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

July, 2011


I hereby declare that this thesis has not been and will not be, submitted in whole or in

part to another University for the award of any other degree.




List of Tables and Figures v List of Abbreviations viii Acknowledgements x Summary xii 1 Introduction 1

1.1 Setting the Scene 1

1.2 State of the Art: The Problems of Populism 4

1.3 Defining and Identifying Populist Parties 12

1.4 Explaining the Electoral Performance of Populist Parties 19

1.5 Research Design and Methodology 31 2 Populist Parties and their Credibility in 31 European Countries 38

2.1 Introduction 38

2.2 The Populist Parties and their Credibility 41

2.3 Conclusion 80 3 Paths to Populist Electoral Success and Failure: QCA Analysis 83

3.1 Introduction 83

3.2 Operationalisation of Causal Conditions 84

3.3 Crisp Set QCA Analysis 94

3.4 Fuzzy Set QCA Analysis 98

3.5 Conclusion 107 4 Populist Parties in the Netherlands 110

4.1 Introduction 110

4.2 Identifying the Populist Parties in the Netherlands 111

4.3 Explaining the Electoral Performance of the Dutch Populist Parties 117

4.4 Conclusion 133 5 Populist Parties in Poland 136

5.1 Introduction 136

5.2 Identifying the Populist Parties in Poland 137

5.3 Explaining the Electoral Performance of the Polish Populist Parties 146

5.4 Conclusion 163

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* For the sake of brevity, this list does not include all the populist parties (and usual suspects or borderline cases) discussed in Chapter 2.


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Acknowledgements In the process of carrying out my research and writing up this dissertation I could rely on the invaluable support of a substantial amount of people. Without their comments and encouragement, this dissertation would not have taken its present form, if it had been written at all. First of all, I thank my supervisors Aleks Szczerbiak and Paul Taggart. Owing to their intensive guidance at the very early stages of the process I was able to promptly and confidently get the project underway. The meetings that followed always provided me with a clear sense of direction. I must thank my supervisors for the enjoyable and fruitful discussions, their invaluable comments and suggestions to improve my work, their encouragement, and also for unmistakably making clear when I was worrying too much about things not really worth worrying about. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to work with them.

I am also grateful to the course conveners I have worked with in the past three years: Paul Webb, Dan Hough, Tim Bale, James Hampshire, Mark Bennister and Paul Taggart. They have given me the opportunity to build up teaching experience and to develop the valuable skills related to it. I would also like to thank the other members of the Politics and Contemporary European Studies department and the Sussex European Institute for contributing to the friendly and collegial atmosphere I have been working in during the past four years. Special thanks go out to departmental coordinator Amanda Simms and my fellow research students (not in the last place for bearing with me during more stressful periods). Special special thanks go out to the ones part of the preceding „generation‟ of DPhil students who have been present at the time of my arrival, and throughout most of my years at Sussex, for making me feel at home so quickly: John FitzGibbon, Martine Huberty and Dan Keith. I cherish the great moments I shared with my friends and colleagues, on and off campus.

A large number of people outside Sussex have also been instrumental to the substantive progress of my research. I am grateful to the many scholars listed in Appendix A who have been very helpful in analysing populist parties across Europe.

The (anonymous) scholars who have shared their knowledge in the three conducted expert surveys have also been of great help. I am also indebted to the interviewees listed in Appendix C who took the time to speak with me and to share their insights. I would further like to thank Simona Guerra and Bartek Napieralski for their feedback on a draft of the Polish case study chapter and Sabina Avdagic, Emelie Lilliefeldt and Barbara Vis for their elaborate comments on provisional QCA analyses. In addition, I am grateful to Dan Keith, Nard and Jaco van Kessel and Saskia Hollander who have spent considerable time and effort proofreading the first draft of this dissertation and xi who provided me with useful feedback. Moving back to the embryonic stages of this dissertation, I would also like to thank Ben Crum for his feedback and advice during the construction of the initial research proposal, which I successfully submitted to Sussex University. I am also indebted to André Krouwel for his advice and support.

Naturally, any shortcomings in this dissertation are entirely my own responsibility.

Further gratitude goes out to the VSBfonds and the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds for providing me the financial support in order to fund the first year of my research. For invaluable non-materialistic support I could rely on my loyal Dutch friends who visited me in Brighton during the past years. I am particularly grateful to Jochem Brons, Chris Heijs and Wouter Prause for helping me with moving back to the Netherlands and taking care of the related logistical matters and Saskia Hollander for finding a lovely new house to move in to. They relieved me of much organisational hassle which would otherwise have come quite untimely.

Last, but certainly not least, I would like to thank my brother and sister, Nard and Jaco van Kessel, and their other halves, Rinske Piek and Ruben Klaphake, for their love and unfaltering support and encouragement. I am also indebted to my parents, Jos and Klarie van Kessel, for having provided me with the biological stuff that enabled me to submit this dissertation and with a safe and loving environment for me to grow up in. I am particularly thankful to my mother, who has taught me the moral values and discipline which helped me in completing my work. It saddens me deeply not being able to share my experiences with my parents and to show them the results of my work.

Brighton, July 2011

In addition to the persons mentioned above, I would also like to express words of thanks to some more people who have been involved in this project in the postsubmission period. I am thankful to Karen Anderson, Kristof Jacobs, Niels Spierings and Andrej Zaslove for helping me to prepare for the viva voce by posing critical questions in a test run (and for subsequently boosting my morale by letting me win at the bowling alley). My gratitude also goes out to Elisabeth Carter and Paul Webb for agreeing to be my examiners and for reading and assessing my work carefully. The viva has been a challenging yet enjoyable experience.

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The past decades have witnessed a surge in the scholarly use of the concept „populism‟, especially where the European context is concerned. Populism is a problematic concept, however, as it is often ill-defined and haphazardly applied. The surge of populism is, nevertheless, important as it is considered to be an indicator for the state of representative democracy. This study has two main aims. The first is to relate the concept populism to political parties and to identify the populist parties that have recently managed to enter parliament in 31 European countries. In the European context, populism has predominantly been associated with extreme or radical right parties. This study broadens the scope by also considering populist parties that are not typical examples of this type of party. This dissertation further contributes to the scholarly literature by moving beyond Western Europe and studying populist parties across the whole of Europe. An important lesson of this dissertation is that scholars should be very careful when applying the concept populism to political parties to prevent further concept-stretching. The second aim of the study is to explain the electoral performance of populist parties in Europe. A relatively novel technique, Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA), is applied. This method is particularly geared at demonstrating causal complexity. The results of this analysis are triangulated with three in-depth qualitative case studies of populist parties in three countries: The Netherlands, Poland and the United Kingdom. The study explicitly focuses on the agency of political parties and the credibility of populist parties in particular. In addition to the presence of a conducive environment, this turns out to be a crucial factor in explaining the electoral performance of populist parties. Further comparative research should, therefore, not refrain from taking the agency of populist parties themselves into account.

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1.1 Setting the Scene The quote of fictional Minister James Hacker captures the essence of „populism‟, at least how the term is used in this dissertation, quite well 1. Populism is based on a notion of a, more or less unified, people whose values and interests should directly be translated into political decisions. The personal interests of politicians should not play any role. That is not to say that leaders are redundant. Since the people have something better to do with their lives than to be involved in politics, there ought to be a leader that speaks and acts in the name of the people. According to the populist logic, then, the leader essentially follows.

Although populist rhetoric can be applied by any (political) actor, this study seeks to apply the concept more specifically to political parties. Populist parties are parties that express the populist logic and that criticise the established parties for being unresponsive to the ideas and interests of the „ordinary people‟. The aim of this dissertation is, firstly, to identify the populist parties across Europe that have managed to enter national parliament in recent elections. Due to the conceptual problems surrounding the term „populism‟, this is not a straightforward task, as will be discussed in Section 1.2 of this chapter. Apart from this conceptually oriented effort, the study tries to explain the electoral performance, success and failure, of these populist parties. The electoral performance of populist parties is an important matter, as it is considered to serve as an indicator for the (perceived or actual) responsiveness of the established political parties and the state of representative democracy more generally (see e.g. Mény and Surel 2002; Taggart 2002; Panizza 2005). This dissertation thus seeks to answer the questions which political parties in contemporary Europe can be identified as populist parties and how the electoral performance of these parties can be explained.

James Hacker is the fictional Minister of Administrative Affairs in BBC series „Yes, Minister‟. The quote is derived from: series two (1981), episode four: The Greasy Pole. Hacker‟s assertion is probably based on similar statements of historical politicians like Benjamin Disraeli and Alexandre Auguste Ledru-Rollin.

In the European context, populism has predominantly been associated with the extreme or radical right and political parties that are perceived to belong to this ideological category. The advent of such parties, which are characterised by their discontent with the political establishment, nationalism, hostility towards immigration and an authoritarian stance with regard to law and order issues, attracted widespread scholarly attention from the early 1990s onwards (e.g. Ignazi 1992; Betz 1994;

Kitschelt and McGann 1995). Populism, however, is not necessarily related to xenophobic politics or to any of the other characteristics of the radical right. Outside of the European context, populism is actually often associated with politicians, parties and movements of a very different kind (see Ionescu and Gellner 1969a; Canovan 1981; Taggart 2000). Although the focus of this study is on Europe only, this dissertation also considers populist parties that do not belong to the radical right.

Another feature of the literature on populism in Europe is that it, at least until fairly recently, predominantly deals with the Western part of the continent (e.g.

Albertazzi and McDonnell 2008a). Since many Central and Eastern European countries were, until a few decades ago, governed by communist regimes, it was difficult to provide a meaningful comparison between the party systems of Western and Eastern European countries. Two decades have now passed since the post-communist countries‟ transition to democracy and many of these countries have even joined the European Union. While it would be wrong to disregard the still prevailing differences, it makes sense to start comparing parties and party systems across the whole of Europe.

Cas Mudde (2007) set an example with his study on populist radical right parties across Europe. This study moves beyond the Western part of the continent as well. It considers populist parties in long established democracies as well as in many postcommunist countries.

By taking this broad approach, including different types of populist parties and analysing them in a wide variety of countries, it can be expected that the research will involve parties that have little in common apart from their populism. This is in line with the notion that populist parties are „chameleonic‟ in the sense that they adopt an ideological „colour‟ and focus on issues relevant to their particular context (Taggart 2000). This study assesses whether, in spite of ideological differences, the electoral performance of populist parties is dependent on the same logic. In other words, the aim is to find out whether the same causal conditions are relevant in explaining the electoral success or failure of populist parties in general.

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