Do Anti-Elitist Parties Use Their Parliamentary Tools Differently?


Populist parties have become an important factor in opposition politics all over Europe. While we know a lot about the behaviour of populist parties in the electoral arena and even in the governmental arena, we know surprisingly little about their behaviour in parliament. This article studies the behaviour of populist opposition parties in parliament. We hypothesise that it is the anti-elitism of populism that is the ‘active’ element that shapes their parliamentary behaviour. Anti-elitist parties are more likely to be ‘responsive’ parties, using parliament as a bully pulpit to amplify citizens’ objections to policy and less likely to be ‘responsible’ parties, using the legislature as a place to find support for policy alternatives. We hypothesise anti-elitist parties to use parliamentary scrutiny tools more often than other parties. We make use of recently collected cross-national data on parliamentary behaviour in seven European democracies to test this hypothesis. Our results indicate that parties that have been characterised as anti-elitist tend to vote more against legislation, but they do not ask more parliamentary questions.

Parliamentary Affairs, 74(3): 704-721

This is an open access publication

Tom Louwerse
Tom Louwerse
Associate Professor

Associate Professor in Political Science at Leiden University