Voting and the rise of populism: Spatial perspectives and applications across Europe

Eveline S. van Leeuwen*, Solmaria Halleck Vega

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Populism has expanded over the past decade, especially far-right parties and their respective voter bases. Voting patterns are often unevenly distributed over space, which makes it very relevant to explore, along with other relevant factors, the spatial dimension. This will increase our understanding of the rise of populist parties, and accordingly, policy implications. First, an introduction to the rise of populism is given, especially in the context of Europe, followed by introducing a conceptualization of the spatial dimension of populism. Then, the contributions of the special issue are highlighted. A clear conclusion is that economic development is an important factor in explaining populist voting, but that regional factors such as local public spending on culture, broader welfare and local unemployment, play an equally important role. Instead of more policies, more attention to the context-specific regional needs are urgently required, resulting in a call for place-sensitive policies that take into account regional economic and socio-demographic differences. Finally, ideas on further research directions are proposed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-219
Number of pages11
JournalRegional Science Policy and Practice
Issue number2
Early online date2 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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