Expert civil servants devise ever more sophisticated policies to tackle emergencies such as climate change. But when voters lose faith in experts, they vote for anti-elite populist leaders who promise to drain the swamp in the civil service. Gabriele Gratton and Barton E. Lee write that understanding populist voters’ calculations and mistrust is key to designing democratic institutions that can address the most pressing challenges of our times.
In new research, Cyril Hédoin and Alexandre Chirat use the rational-choice theory of economist Anthony Downs to explain how populism rationally arises to challenge established institutions of liberal democracy.
Economists have become increasingly interested in questions about populism over the last decade and particularly since Brexit and the election of American President Donald Trump. However, the definition of populism remains contested. Alan de Bromhead and Kevin O’Rourke argue that economists need a better understanding of populism’s history and its variegated goals when ascribing specific characteristics and behaviors to populists and their movements.
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