Fueling the populist divide: nativist and cosmopolitan preferences for representation at the elite and mass level

Rosie Campbell, Oliver Heath

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Although populist leaders often employ an anti-elite discourse which presents the elite as unable or unwilling to represent ordinary citizens, we know very little about who elites actually think should be represented, or how this differs, if at, all from what ordinary citizens want. In this article we find that there is a considerable difference between the groups that voters want to see represented in parliament and those which political elites want to see represented. In particular, we find that political elites tend to hold far more ‘cosmopolitan’ preferences than ordinary voters, and prioritize the representation of greater diversity in parliament based on the groups politicised by the new social movements and identity politics of the 60s and 70s, such as women, ethnic minorities, LGBT and the disabled. By contrast, voters more often hold nativist preferences than political elites and more often prioritize the representation of groups such as the working class, and white local people. Moreover, British voters who hold nativist preferences of political representation are more likely to be politically alienated and more likely to support Brexit.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 12 Aug 2021

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