Chasing the ‘Populist Zeitgeist’

The research project is concerned with the various facets of current and historic electoral breakthroughs and rule of populist parties and politicians. Michael Bayerlein’s research specifically focuses on the determinants and consequences of populism by identifying common causes and working out short- as well as long-term ramifications for the political system. The project has multiple components that are currently addressed in five working papers:

  1. A historical big data approach to identify the economic and political determinants of populist electoral breakthroughs between 1900 and 2020 that also addresses the persistence of populist actors after these breakthroughs (with Christoph Trebesch and Manuel Funke).
  2. Focusing on electoral competition, an analysis of mainstream party responsiveness towards the electoral success of right-wing populist parties in Europe on the newly politicized GAL-TAN policy dimension.
  3. Constructing an innovative index on ontological insecurity, as a determinant of anti-globalization attitudes and right-wing populist voting in Western European countries on the individual level (with Anne Metten).
  4. An analysis of regional differences in right-wing populist voting in Germany and the USA by introducing the concept of spatial inequality. Using household income data from Germany and the USA, relative regional inequality is modeled as a determinant of populist voting.
  5.  Populist response to COVID-19 pandemic. Using new data on government responses to the pandemic, we analyze how the policies implemented by populist governments differ from non-populist governments, and what the effect of these policy on excess mortality is (with Vanessa A. Boese, Scott Gates, Gyozo Gyoengyoesi, Katrin Kamin and Syed Mansoob Murshed).


For further information, contact Michael Bayerlein.