Acta Politica

, Volume 42, Issue 4, pp 401–420 | Cite as

Consensus Democracy and Support for Populist Parties in Western Europe

  • Armèn Hakhverdian
  • Christel Koop
Original Article

Abstract

Inspired by a previous debate in Acta Politica between Rudy Andeweg and Arend Lijphart on the pros and cons of consensus democracy, this article explores whether support for populist parties is traceable to the institutional framework of West European democracies. ‘Populism’ is conceptualized in terms of its emphasis on the antagonism between the people and corrupt elites, and its opposition to intermediary structures between the rulers and the ruled. We consider right-wing as well as left-wing populism. Two institutional dimensions — the executives-parties dimension and the federal–unitary dimension — are drawn from Lijphart's work to analyze the association between patterns of democracy and populism. Throughout, consensual systems are hypothesized to display higher support for populist parties than majoritarian systems. We show that the executives-parties dimension, which measures the diffusion of power within political institutions, indeed makes a difference for populist support. Moreover, unlike many similar studies on anti-system parties, this article also explores Lijphart's federal–unitary dimension and consequently finds that federal states are more conducive to populism than unitary states.

Keywords

populism consensus democracy majoritarian democracy federalism West European politics 

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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan Ltd 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Armèn Hakhverdian
    • 1
  • Christel Koop
    • 2
  1. 1.Nuffield College, University of OxfordOxfordUK
  2. 2.Department of Political and Social SciencesEuropean University Institute, Badia FiesolanaFlorenceItaly

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