Journal of Political Institutions and Political Economy > Vol 3 > Issue 1

A Pink Slip for the Blue Reform: Is Selection, Experience, or Ideology the Elixir of Populists’ Survival?

Sirus H. Dehdari, Swedish Institute for Social Research, Stockholm University, and Department of Government, Uppsala University, Sweden, , Konstantinos Matakos, Department of Political Economy, King’s College London, UK, , Jaakko Meriläinen, Centro de Investigación Económica and Department of Economics, ITAM, Mexico, , Janne Tukiainen, Department of Economics, University of Turku, and VATT Institute for Economic Research, Economicum, Finland,
Suggested Citation
Sirus H. Dehdari, Konstantinos Matakos, Jaakko Meriläinen and Janne Tukiainen (2022), "A Pink Slip for the Blue Reform: Is Selection, Experience, or Ideology the Elixir of Populists’ Survival?", Journal of Political Institutions and Political Economy: Vol. 3: No. 1, pp 1-21.

Publication Date: 09 Mar 2022
© 2022 S. H. Dehdari, K. Matakos, J. Meriläinen, and J. Tukiainen
Comparative political economy,  Comparative politics,  Political economy,  Political parties,  Elections
Populistsparty splitsselectionideologyoffice motivesexperiencepolitical survival


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In this article:
Background and Data 
Why Did the Blue Reform Fail? 
Concluding Remarks 


Why do some populist parties thrive while others fail or split? Is it possible for populists to maintain anti-establishment nature while being in a coalition with the mainstream parties? We study the populist Finns Party that split while being part of a coalition government. The splinter party Blue Reform retained its part in government and most of the experienced political personnel, yet it failed in the next election while the rump party remained popular. Leveraging rich data on electoral candidates and voters, we explore various potential drivers of the electoral persistence of populist parties: candidate quality, selection, office perks, and ideological motivations. Our results indicate that ideological proximity with voters and their demand for descriptive representation are keys for the electoral success of populist parties. This has implications for the political and policy consequences of including populists in government. In particular, our work highlights that there are limits on the electoral returns to ideological moderation, and that political experience and the perks of office alone do not guarantee populists’ survival.



Journal of Political Institutions and Political Economy, Volume 3, Issue 1 Special Issue - The Political Economy of Populism, Part II
See the other articles that are part of this special issue.