Populist attitudes in Spanish public opinion

From January 2015 to December 2017
Funding Institution: Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness
Grant Number: CSO2014-52950-R

The main purpose of this project is to analyse the characteristics, causes and consequences of populist attitudes in the Spanish public opinion. The upsurge of populist movements is one of the most relevant phenomena that have witnessed democratic societies, particularly in Western Europe, in the last decades. Although Spain seemed immune to this trend, recent evidence in the political outlook suggests this is no longer the case.

A burgeoning literature has inquired on the causes behind the electoral success of populist parties. The quantity of works aiming to explain vote to populist parties contrasts with the scarcity of data at the micro level that can provide a detailed account of populist attitudes in the citizenry, beyond what can be indirectly deduced from the support given to these parties.

Following the conceptual clarifications of recent works, this project will (i) design and validate specific instruments that will allow measuring populism at an individual level in an objective, systematic and general way. This will provide the necessary evidence to (ii) know the reach and diffusion of populist attitudes and their relationship with socio-demographic characteristics and attitudinal dimensions; (iii) analyse the influence of the factors that explain differences in populist attitudes among citizens, with special attention to the relevance of factors related to the economic crisis; and (iv) examine the impact of populist attitudes on electoral behaviour and political participation.

The project will use data coming from a face-to-face survey to a sample (N=1500) of the population living in Spain as well as data from an existing online panel that will be complemented with an additional wave.