Honors Theses

Publication Date

Spring 2021

Abstract

Several recent elections demonstrate voters across advanced industrial economies support candidates with a populist agenda. We observe this phenomenon, for example, in the election of Donald J. Trump as president of the United States as well as across the Atlantic through the majority of voters in the UK favoring the UK Independence Party’s call to leave the European Union and return to a nationally focused agenda through Brexit. Europe allows us to be vividly aware of voter support for populist agendas through their multi-party systems, which include political parties who openly and explicitly claim a populist agenda, such as the populist radical right Sweden Democrats who won 5.7 percent of the vote, crossing the parliamentary electoral threshold and the Five Star Movement (Movimento 5 Stelle, M5S) in Italy who won no less than 25.6 percent of the vote in the 2013 parliamentary election. As noted by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change (Kyle & Gultchin, 2018) in their report “Populists in Power Around the World,” these close, aggressive, or successful political races and movements have redirected the space where populism receives inquisitive attention from academic discussions to mainstream media. This paper attempts to join a conversation that now effectively spans both the academic world across many disciplines, as well as the world of mainstream media and dinner conversations, by shedding light on what national conditions produce such widespread ‘popular’ support for populist agendas such as “Making America Great Again” and “Keeping Sweden Swedish.”

Faculty Advisor

Dr. Susan M Jellissen

Document Type

Honors Thesis

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