Populism Index 2019: Highest Support for Populist Parties Since 1980


Swedish think-tank Timbro presented the subsequent edition of the Authoritarian Populism Index. The aim of the index is chiefly to determine to what extent populist parties can pose a real threat to liberal democracy in the European Union and five other countries on the continent.

The measurement of support for populist parties, which are distinguished by, among others, the creation of conflicts between “people” and “elites”, strong nationalism, and attempts to remove institutional restrictions on power or anti-capitalism, shows the strongest support for these parties since 1980.

The three parties included in the index that achieved the highest support in the last elections were: Fidesz (Hungary), Law and Justice (Poland), and Syriza (Greece).

At the end of 2018, the support for populist groups in the three countries exceeded 50%, based on the results of the last elections, and these were: Hungary, Greece, and Italy.

Poland ranked fourth in terms of support for populists (PiS and Kukiz’15).

The lowest support for populist parties in 2018 remained in: Malta, the UK, and Ireland.

In many countries, populist parties are opposition parties and traditional political parties refuse to cooperate with them.

However, as many as 11 countries have populist parties ruling or co-ruling. These are: Hungary, Poland, Greece, Norway, Finland, Italy, Latvia, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Switzerland, and Austria.

In the latest edition of the index, the average support for parties classified as populist in 33 European countries was just over 22%, and such groups gained the support of about 71 million voters (27%).

Among the strongest 55 parties on the Authoritarian Populism Index, more than half of them were founded before the year 2000, so they have been active on the political scene for almost twenty years.

Timbro uses the category of “authoritarian populism” to distinguish the parties in the party platforms of which some populist demands appear from those which (within the framework of a populist platform) express their opposition to the model of constitutional liberal democracy (for instance, lack of acceptance for the separation of powers and restraints on power, hostility towards procedures existing in democracy, developing conflicts between homogeneous “people” and “elites”).

Other features that Timbro’s experts were looking for were strong nationalist and anti-capitalist attitudes.

More information about the Authoritarian Populism Index may be found here: populismindex.com

Summary of a press release published in Polish by the Civil Development Forum (FOR)

Marek Tatala