Left Behind Voters, Anti-Elitism and Popular Will

Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper 2020-055/VII

48 Pages Posted: 28 Oct 2020

See all articles by Benoît S. Y. Crutzen

Benoît S. Y. Crutzen

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Department of Economics

Dana Sisak

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Department of Economics; Tinbergen Institute

Otto H. Swank

Erasmus University Rotterdam - Department of Economics; Tinbergen Institute Rotterdam (TIR)

Date Written: September 2, 2020

Abstract

Two common characteristics of populism are anti-elitism and favoring popular will over expertise. The recent successes of populists are often attributed to the common people, the majority of voters, being left behind by mainstream parties. This paper shows that the two characteristics of populism are responses to the common people being left behind. We develop a model that highlights two forces behind electoral success: numbers and knowledge. Numbers give the common people an electoral advantage, knowledge the elite. We show that electoral competition may lead parties to cater to the elites interest, creating a left-behind majority. Next, we identify conditions under which a left-behind majority encourages entry by a party offering an anti-elite platform. Finally, we identify conditions under which parties follow the opinion of the common people when that group would benefit from parties relying on experts.

Keywords: Electoral Competition, Populism, Pandering, Information

JEL Classification: D72, D83

Suggested Citation

Crutzen, Benoît S. Y. and Sisak, Dana and Swank, Otto H., Left Behind Voters, Anti-Elitism and Popular Will (September 2, 2020). Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper 2020-055/VII, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3688799 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3688799

Benoît S. Y. Crutzen (Contact Author)

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam
Netherlands

Dana Sisak

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam
Netherlands

Tinbergen Institute ( email )

Burg. Oudlaan 50
Rotterdam, 3062 PA
Netherlands

Otto H. Swank

Erasmus University Rotterdam - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam
Netherlands

Tinbergen Institute Rotterdam (TIR)

P.O. Box 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam
Netherlands
+31 10 4081448 (Phone)
+31 10 2120551 (Fax)

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