Different Strokes for Different Folks: Who Votes for Technocratic Parties?
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In this study, I look at two types of political actors commonly described as ‘populist’ in literature—namely, rightwing populists and technocratic leaders like France’s Emmanuel Macron and the Czech Republic’s Andrej Babiš. While both types of political actors tend to emerge as a response to a decline in trust in established parties and adopt platforms with anti-establishment and monist elements, they also possess noticeably different qualities. Unlike rightwing populists, technocrats lack a distinctive ideological profile and tend to adopt more inclusive rhetoric by appealing to a broadly-defined community of people. When contrasted with supporters of rightwing populists, empirical analysis of supporters of Macron’s and Babiš’ parties shows that the two have few commonalities. Relatively few examples of such political leadership, the lack of a distinct ideological profile and the variation of their support bases suggest that one should use caution when conceptualizing technocratic populists as a distinct theoretical type.