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Wouter van der Brug and Anthony Mughan, "Charisma, Leader Effects and Support for Right-Wing Populist Parties," Party Politics, 13 (January 2007), 29-51.

First Paragraph:
Over the past two decades, a wave of right-wing populist, or extreme right, parties has burst onto the political scene in many established democracies, particularly in Europe. One of their more notable features is that they are treated as a species apart in the political parties literature; they are widely taken to be parties 'not like the others' (e.g. Betz, 1998; Eatwell and Mudde, 2004; Hainsworth, 2000; Mény and Surel, 2002). When analysis is at the party level, this perspective is reasonable and justifiable. After all, insisting that they alone are the true voice of the people, populist parties themselves go to great lengths to set themselves apart from a party establishment that they excoriate for having betrayed the trust of the people (Canovan, 1999). In return, established parties often treat their new competitors as political lepers and join forces to isolate them.

Figures and Tables:
Table 1. Leader and party affect scores: descriptive statistics
Table 2. Predictors of party preference: preliminary analysis
Table 3. Predictors of party preference: final analysis

Last Paragraph:
Like the protest vote hypothesis, charismatic leadership is one of several explanations of right-wing populist party voting that assume supporters of these parties to be incapable of making a goal-driven choice. Dismissed as the 'losers of modernity' (Betz, 1998), voters for this kind of party are seen not as being driven by policy preferences on matters of concern to them, but as vessels for a diffuse sense of dissatisfaction and protest that is mobilized by charismatic leaders. This study adds to a growing body of knowledge that rejects this view. Recent studies have shown that we gain a better understanding of right-wing populist party support by treating their followers not as different from those of established parties, but as individuals who arrive at their vote choice using the same kinds of consideration as the latter (e.g. Ivarsflaten, 2005; Mughan and Paxton, 2006; Van der Brug et al., 2000, 2005; Van der Brug and Fennema, 2003). This may be the most important conclusion to follow from our demonstration that leader effects for rightwing populist party leaders are no different in magnitude from those for established party leaders.

last updated February 2007