Anti-System Politics in Western Europe


  • Jonathan Hopkin
    London School of Economics/Università di Bologna

Prof. Jonathan Hopkin, London School of Economics/Università di Bologna
Anti-System Politics in Western Europe

Recent elections in the advanced western democracies have undermined the basic foundations of party systems. I trace the evolution of this shift and argue that it is a long-term result of abandoning the post-war model of egalitarian capitalism in favor of an opaque, technocratic form of governance that allows voters little opportunity to influence policy. With the financial crisis of the late 2000s these arrangements became unsustainable, as incumbent politicians were unable to provide solutions to economic hardship. Electorates demanded change, and it had to come from outside the system. Using a comparative approach, I explain why different kinds of anti-system politics emerge in different countries and how political and economic factors impact the degree of electoral instability that emerges. Finally, I discuss the implications of these changes, arguing that the only way for mainstream political forces to survive is for them to embrace a more activist role for the government in protecting societies from economic turbulence.

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