Populism and Party System Weakness in Latin America and Europe
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This thesis analyzes the relationship between populism and party system weakness from a cross-regional perspective. After first determining the ideational definition of populism as the appropriate approach for this type of research, the viability and generalizability of prominent causal models for populist success is discussed. A preliminary statistical analysis shows significant correlation between party system weakness and populist electoral success. Building upon these findings, a case study of populist successes in the most recent election cycles in Brazil, Italy, Mexico, and Spain shows that party system weakness leads to populist electoral success. While other causal factors play a role in the success of populist actors, the results of this case study suggest that party system weakness influences populist success across regional, structural, and ideological lines.