Political identities: The missing link in the study of populism
Political identities are crucial for understanding electoral behavior: individuals who identify with a political party behave as loyal supporters who would hardly vote for competitors old or new. Although this is an obvious observation, it has received little attention in the study of populism—a set of ideas that not only portrays established political parties as corrupt and self-serving entities but also depicts “the people” as a homogenous and virtuous community that should run the government. In this contribution, we develop a novel theory that claims that populism can thrive only when an antiestablishment political identity exists. This identity denotes an emotional and rational repulsion toward all established political parties in a given country. We test our theory by analyzing original survey data from contemporary Chile. The empirical analysis reveals not only that a limited segment of the electorate holds an antiestablishment political identity coalesced by populism but also that there is a large segment of apartisans adverse to populism. These empirical findings
have important consequences for the study of populism, particularly when it comes to analyzing its emergence and electoral potential.
Meléndez, C., Rovira, C. (2917). Political identities: The missing link in the study of populism. Party Politics.