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Multidimensional incongruence, political disaffection, and support for anti-establishment parties

Journal article
Authors Ryan Bakker
Seth Jolly
Jonathan Polk
Published in Journal of European Public Policy
Volume 27
Issue 2
Pages 292–309
ISSN 1350-1763
Publication year 2020
Published at Centre for European Research (CERGU)
Department of Political Science
Pages 292–309
Language en
Keywords European Union; political parties; representation; populism
Subject categories Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)


To what extent do representational gaps between parties and voters destabilise party systems and create electoral opportunities for anti-establishment parties on the left and right? In this paper, we use multiple measures of party- partisan incongruence to evaluate whether issue-level incongruence contributes to an increase of political disaffection and anti-establishment politics. For this analysis, we use data from the Chapel Hill Expert Survey (CHES) for party positions and public opinion data from the European Election Study (EES). Our findings indicate that multidimensional incongruence is associated with disaffection at the national and European level, and that disaffected mainstream party voters are in turn more likely to consider voting for anti-establishment challenger parties. This finding suggests that perceived gaps in party-citizen substantive representation have important electoral ramifications across European democracies.

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