Framing Blame: Toward a Better Understanding of the Effects of Populist Communication on Populist Party Preferences
By Laura Sudulich on 21 November 2017
This is a summary of the forthcoming article in JEPOP
Populist political parties have become influential throughout the world. From India to the Americas to Europe, populism has been successful on both the left and right end of the political spectrum. With the alleged omnipresence of populism in politics, media and society, a growing number of scholars have argued that the media play a key role in populism’s success. However, we still know too little about how populist messages may affect citizens’ vote choice.
To better understand the effects of populist messages on populist voting, this article draws on an experimental study that manipulated the core populist message: attributing blame to the “corrupt” elites who are deemed responsible for the “ordinary” people’s problems. Most importantly, we found that blaming the elites results in a stronger intention to vote for the Dutch right-wing populist Freedom Party (PVV). At the same time, these blame frames result in a weaker intention to vote for the largest party in government.
In a next step, our article demonstrates that vote intentions are indirectly affected via blame perceptions. This means that people first need to accept the populist blame frame before aligning their vote intentions with the populist message. All in all, this article demonstrates in what ways populist messages can affect citizens’ preferences for populist political parties and parties regarded as part of the establishment.