Right-wing populist party supporters: Dissatisfied but not direct democrats

Shaun Bowler, David Denemark, Todd Donovan, Duncan McDonnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)


Right-wing populist parties tend to combine criticism of how liberal democracy functions with calls for greater direct democracy. But do their voters share that support for direct democracy? In this article, survey data is used to examine, first, whether right-wing populist candidates in Australia, Canada and New Zealand were more supportive of direct democracy than candidates of other parties. Second, the views of right-wing populist voters about the functioning of democracy and direct democracy are investigated. While right-wing populist candidates turned out to be far more likely to support direct democracy, right-wing populist supporters did not mirror the candidates. Although these were among the most dissatisfied with how democracy worked, they did not necessarily favour referendums more than other voters. The findings have implications both for how we conceive of the relationship between populism and direct democracy and the remedies proposed for redressing populist discontent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-91
Number of pages22
JournalEuropean Journal of Political Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017


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