Volume 56, Issue 3 p. 578-600
Original Article

Failed expectations: Quality of government and support for populist parties in Europe


Corresponding Author


University of Gothenburg

Address for correspondence: Mattias Agerberg, Department of Political Science, University of Gothenburg, Box 711, 405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden. Email: [email protected]Search for more papers by this author
First published: 07 March 2017
Citations: 39


This article addresses an issue previously neglected in the research on support for populist parties: How do perceptions of the local quality of government (QoG) and local service delivery affect voters’ propensity to vote for a populist party? It argues that personal experience with poor QoG makes voters more likely to support populist parties. The argument highlights the interplay between supply and demand factors in explaining populist support and discusses why populist parties have been particularly successful in certain regions in Europe. A unique dataset from the Quality of Government Institute that surveys citizens’ perception of QoG in their area is used to estimate both individual- and regional-level models of the link between perceived local QoG and populist support in Europe. The empirical results show a strong and robust association between within-country variation in QoG and support for populist parties.