Economic Populism and Producerism: European Right-Wing Populist Parties in a Transatlantic Perspective

in Populism
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Abstract

This article aims to develop a conceptual framework to address the economic dimension of right-wing populism. Moving beyond classic left-right economics and the divide between economic and cultural approaches, it argues that the political economy of right-wing populists is intertwined with cultural values in the construction of the ‘true’ people as an economic community whose well-being is in decline and under threat, and therefore needs to be restored. Looking at populist traditions across Europe and the United States, the paper emphasizes the significance of ‘producerist’ frames in economic populism. This is illustrated through an empirical analysis of differences and similarities in the economic policies and discourses of three established right-wing populist parties based in Europe (FN, SVP and UKIP), and the Tea Party and Donald Trump in the United States. We find that economic populist frames are common to all of the parties under scrutiny, albeit subject, however, to different interpretations of the producerist antagonism and groups. Our findings confirm that the intersection between economic populism and producerism provides a new—and fruitful—perspective on right-wing populism, while simultaneously demonstrating the relevance of a transatlantic approach to the study of the populist phenomenon.