Acta Politica

, Volume 53, Issue 4, pp 517–541 | Cite as

The voice of populist people? Referendum preferences, practices and populist attitudes

  • Kristof JacobsEmail author
  • Agnes Akkerman
  • Andrej Zaslove
Original Article


Populist parties claim that democratic regimes fail to deliver results that are in line with what ‘the people’ want. To address this policy outcome failure, they favour direct democracy (especially when in opposition). Yet we do not know whether populists’ proposed solution—referendums—resonates with ‘the people’ it wishes to empower. This study fills this gap. First, we analyse to what extent citizens with populist attitudes favour referendums. Second, we analyse to what extent populist attitudes are linked to the decision to vote in the 2016 Dutch referendum about the EU–Ukraine Association Agreement. Third, we analyse to what extent these attitudes are linked to their vote choice. To answer these questions, we use the Dutch 2016 National Referendum Survey. Among others, we find that populist citizens are more likely to favour referendums and they are more likely to cast a ‘No’-vote, regardless of their party preference and trust in government.


Populist attitudes Referendum Voter turnout Vote choice The Netherlands 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Limited 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kristof Jacobs
    • 1
    Email author
  • Agnes Akkerman
    • 1
  • Andrej Zaslove
    • 1
  1. 1.IMRRadboud UniversityNijmegenThe Netherlands

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