Right-Wing Populism

Democratic backsliding is fundamentally linked to the rise of right-wing populism. It is right-wing populist parties (RWPPs) and their leaders that are at the forefront of undermining democratic institutions. They aim to capitalize on the dissatisfaction of people with the political system and their individual economic and social prospects and worries. Understanding the electoral success of RWPPs is crucial if we want to successfully safeguard liberal democracy.

Understanding Right-Wing Populism And What To Do About It

The report Understanding Right-Wing Populism And What To Do About It presents a combination of empirical and qualitative analysis of right-wing populist parties (RWPPs) in 17 European countries.

In order to better understand the success of European right-wing populist parties (RWPPs) the report looks at the Three Ps:

  • The First P: People: Why do individual people vote for RWPPs? (Demand)
  • The Second P: Parties: What makes certain RWP parties more successful than others? (Supply)
  • The Third P: Policies: What is the role of social policies in facilitating and/or moderating RWPP success?

How the Three Ps help us understand right-wing populism

Imagine a construction worker is concerned with the economic impact over immigration. Specifically, he is concerned with the effect low-skill immigration has on his labour market position. This would mean a lot of competition that might push down wages. Against this background, a RWPP is advocating a policy restricting immigration. The RWPP supplies the demand of the voter for addressing his economic concerns with a (policy) answer. Now imagine at the same time, previous governments have watered down employment protection legislation protecting his job. And this legislation would have minimized the economic risks he is facing from actually coming to pass. If another policy was in place this voter might have never voted for RWPP. One can easily imagine how the social policies in place (not) addressing this voter's (economic) concerns do also have an effect on his vote choice.

Find out below how exactly demand, supply and policies affect RWPP success.

A cooperation project with Daphne Halikiopoulou (University of Reading) and Tim Vlandas (University of Oxford).

Publication & Downloads

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Single Country Case Studies

If you are only interested in single country case studies, you can also individually download the regional comparative patterns below which are identical to the respective chapters in the full report. All downloads include a summary of the full report as well.

Western Europe: Germany, Austria and France

United Kingdom

Southern Europe: Greece, Cyprus, Spain and Portugal


The Nordics: Denmark, Finland and Sweden

Eastern Europe: Poland, Hungary and Slovenia

The Baltics: Estonia and Latvia

The First P: People

Recognize the economic dimension of the immigration issue

Differentiate between core and periphery voters

Look at the size of voter groups

Know your voter base

Know you voter base: The European centre-left and RWPP electorate in comparison

The Second P: Parties

Populism alone does not explain the variation in RWPP success

We should think of right-wing populist parties as nationalist parties

The Third P: Policies

Social policies make a difference

Protective and compensatory policies are effective in tandem

Conclusion & Recommendations

Do not embrace copy-cat RWPP strategies

Look at the whole electorate instead of only the RWPP electorate

Understanding RWPP success requires understanding the variation within RWPPs

International Media Responses



ETUI-FES joint event • Brussels • 13 October 2022



St Anthonys College • Oxford • 11 October 2022



FES Tech Talk • 7 September 2022



Blog Post • Co-Authored by Michael Jennewein



Panel discussion • Vienna • 2 June 2022



Podcast • joined by Johanna Lutz