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Photo: “Viktor Orbán adressing the House of Commons – 2015.09.21 (1)“, by Elekes Andor, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. Hue modified from the original

Dekeyser, Dieter, and Henk Roose. “Unpacking Populism: Using Correlational Class Analysis to Understand How People Interrelate Populist, Pluralist, and Elitist Attitudes.” Swiss Political Science Review 27 (2021): 476–95.


Populist attitudes are generally considered to consist of three types of beliefs, viz. people-centrist, anti-elitist, and Manichean beliefs. There is less agreement, however, on how populist attitudes are related to liberal democratic attitudes. Some argue that populist attitudes are incompatible with liberal democratic attitudes (e.g., pluralism and elitism). Others assert that these attitudes are compatible. Starting off from the concept of belief systems, we analyze the different ways in which people interrelate populist, pluralist, and elitist attitudes. Using correlational class analysis, we uncover four belief systems that differ in (a) how consistently people support populist beliefs and (b) the direction of the relationship between populist and pluralist beliefs. We also find that the differences between belief systems are related to people’s support for populism. People holding populist beliefs tend to associate populist attitudes with pluralist attitudes, while people who do not hold populist beliefs associate populist attitudes with anti-pluralist attitudes.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.