Essays on Conceptualising Policies Linked to Populist Rhetoric in Europe and Measuring Their Effects in Hungary

Cossu, Elena (2024) Essays on Conceptualising Policies Linked to Populist Rhetoric in Europe and Measuring Their Effects in Hungary. PhD thesis, Budapesti Corvinus Egyetem, Nemzetközi Kapcsolatok és Politikatudományi Doktori Iskola. DOI

PDF : (dissertation)
PDF : (draft in English)

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In this doctoral thesis, we tried to answer the following overarching research question: what are the effects of policies linked to populist rhetoric on economic growth? To do so, we answered three smaller research questions in each of the papers that are part of this dissertation: one to conceptualize the independent variable, one to conceptualize policies linked to populist rhetoric in Europe, and one that measures the effect of such policies in the Hungarian case. In the first paper, we see how concept formation, concept stretching, and social contexts are fundamental in the conceptualization of populism. The paper shows that the current understanding of populism could learn a great deal from the context of when it was first studied, which is late 20th century Latin America. More specifically, that the current understanding of populism is flawed in two ways. The first way regards concept formation. In fact, contrary to the current understanding of populism, understanding something in the way it manifests can still be a valid way to understand it. All social sciences, deduce the existence of a phenomenon from some its a posteriori manifestation. The problem that concerned populism the most is the framework that was used to interpret its Latin American manifestation. The second way regards concept stretching. Excluding political economic definitions just because they are based on the Latin American experience, which is erroneously believed to be only leftist, is simply wrong. The economic definition of populism simply does not include only leftist or inclusionary forms. This paper also stresses the often-dismissed importance of structural change and social contexts to explain national and subnational variations in understanding populism. In fact, the Latin American experience teaches us that things can be generalised only according to socio-cultural and economic context. In the second paper, we show that the number of European parties characterised by populist rhetoric is rising, and that these parties’ positions consistently differ from all other parties in terms of policy positions. These positions also fundamentally differ in terms of left–right divide rather than geographical position. In other words, parties characterised by policy preferences in Europe are a distinct ‘fourth pole’ next to right-wing, lwf-wing, and centrist parties. However, even if the parties of this pole are predominantly located in Central and Eastern Europe, we do not see a statistical difference based on geographical location. We showed how these differences are significant for most CHES variables across a left–right divide using ANOVA and presenting the F-tests scores and the significance levels in the supplementary files. In the last paper, we use different quasi-experimental methodologies to measure the overall effect of the Fidesz government, defined by different sources as characterised by populist rhetoric. We find that there is a negative effect on GDP at Purchase Power Parity that increases over time. Based on our 30-year sample, we find that a government characterised by populism in Hungary is characterised by a loss in GDP between 8.31% and 10.14%. This is also in line with the Sachs policy cycle idea that populist rhetoric first has a positive effect and then a negative one in the long-term. The overall result of the thesis is that we can still conceptualise policies connected to populism rhetoric in Europe, and then when we do so such policies are associated primarily anti-identity and anti-democratic policies, and second economic conservatism. The mix of these policies produced in Hungary between the years 2010 and 2020 a negative effect on GDP at Purchase Power Parity. We hypothesize yet not prove that this is probably given by the political exploitation of a populist narrative which in turn was motivated by socio-cultural and historic context.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD thesis)
Supervisor:Benczes István, Gedeon Peter
Subjects:International relations
ID Code:1353
Date:11 April 2024
Deposited On:13 Dec 2023 13:26
Last Modified:30 Apr 2024 09:54

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