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Brown Bag Seminar: Mert Moral & Evgeny Sedashov

The recent surge in the electoral support for populist parties has often been attributed to electorates' anti-elitist attitudes. However, as populist parties gradually transition from being a marginal(ized) opposition to government leaders, they have also become the very ``elites'' they have long opposed. We investigate the consequences of this change in populist parties' status. We argue that voters with anti-elitist attitudes are likely to vote for populist parties that are not members of the ``establishment.'' In other contexts where populist parties secured government leadership, citizens' anti-elitist attitudes will hurt them in the same way they hurt other establishment parties. Thus, populist parties of today experience a peculiar form of incumbency disadvantage as they become the victims of their own anti-elitist rhetoric. We test these arguments employing survey data from various cross-national and national election studies and find strong empirical support.

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