Political Change in Spain: Populism, Feminism and New Dimensions of Conflict

From 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2019
Funding Institution: Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness
Grant Number: CSO2017-83086-R

This project aims to unravel—from an individual and longitudinal perspective—the dynamics underlying the transformation and change of the political attitudes and behaviour of Spanish citizens between 2010 and 2020. As a starting point the project analyses the effects of changes in personal economic circumstances on individuals’ attitudes towards the political system, their policy preferences, and their political engagement. Given the hastened segmentation of the Spanish labour market as a direct consequence of the economic crisis, the project pays particular attention to employment and income changes and their political consequences at the individual level.

In the political realm, the economic crisis has been accompanied by the emergence and electoral success of new parties. The project examines these changes from an individual-level perspective and pays special attention to the dimensions of political competition that are relevant for voters’ choices. We analyse the factors that explain support for these new parties, how citizens position these parties in new and established dimensions of party competition, and the impact of their emergence on citizens’ attitudes towards the political system.

This electoral change however cannot be understood as a direct reaction to the economic situation. On the contrary, changing structural conditions precede an endogenous blend of changes in perceptions about the economy, values, conflict dimensions, and behaviours. We focus in particular on two attitudinal dimensions and their dynamic relationship with behavioural outcomes. On the one hand, we analyse the mobilization of voters with populist beliefs and the dynamics between populist attitudes and support for populist parties. On the other hand, we explore attitudes towards feminism, modern sexism and political correctness, as a neglected attitudinal dimension yet central in the analysis of contemporary changes in attitudes and behaviours.

To address these questions this project draws and contributes to extending an online panel survey that the research group initially launched in 2010 and which is currently fielding its 9th wave. Panel data allow us to study the causal dynamics underlying attitudinal and behavioural changes, while avoiding common endogeneity problems that arise when analysing these questions with cross-sectional data. To gain further insights into the causal mechanisms of these relationships, data from the panel survey will be complemented with a series of survey experiments.