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Populists as Chameleons? An Adaptive Learning Approach to the Rise of Populist Politicians


Muis, Jasper


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Abstract This paper envisions populism as a vote- and attention-maximizing strategy. It applies an adaptive learning approach to understand successes of populist party leaders. I assume that populists are ideologically flexible and continually search for a more beneficial policy position, in terms of both electoral support and media attention, by retaining political claims that yield positive feedback and discard those that encounter negative feedback. This idea is empirically tested by analyzing the Dutch populist leader Pim Fortuyn and the development of his stance about immigration and integration issues. In contrast to the conventional wisdom, the results do not show any empirical support for the claim that Fortuyn was ideologically driven by the opinion polls or by media publicity during the 2002 Dutch parliamentary election campaign. The findings thus suggest that populist parties are perhaps less distinctive in their strategies from mainstream parties than often claimed.
Thesaurusschlagwörter political strategy; populism; politician; election campaign; political opinion; opinion formation; voting behavior; political attitude; political right; immigration; Netherlands
Klassifikation politische Willensbildung, politische Soziologie, politische Kultur
Freie Schlagwörter adaptive learning
Sprache Dokument Englisch
Publikationsjahr 2015
Seitenangabe S. 56-74
Zeitschriftentitel European Quarterly of Political Attitudes and Mentalities, 4 (2015) 2
ISSN 2285-4916
Status Veröffentlichungsversion; begutachtet (peer reviewed)
Lizenz Creative Commons - Namensnennung, Nicht kommerz., Keine Bearbeitung