Right-Wing Populist Voters Favor Dismantling the Welfare State

| Press release

Voters of right-wing populist parties are increasingly in favor of dismantling the welfare state in order to be able to compete with other countries. This is according to a survey of 12,000 voters in Germany, France, Spain, and the United Kingdom. “The right-wing populist spectrum sees the welfare state as a form of redistribution towards immigrants,” says Marcel Thum, Director of the ifo Institute’s Dresden Branch.

Left-wing populist voters, meanwhile, are most strongly opposed to dismantling the welfare state. The views of voters of non-populist parties lie between those of the two populist groups. “Despite these different perceptions of the welfare state, the three voter groups do not differ in their concerns about their current household income,” Thum says. All three groups also see their future prospects similarly.

Right-wing populist voters see the EU’s open borders for goods, services, capital, and – to a certain extent – labor as a threat to job security. By contrast, left-wing populist voters rate these dangers even lower than non-populists.

According to the survey, voters of populist parties significantly overestimate poverty in their country. However, left-wing populist voters show less of an overestimation of poverty in their country than right-wing populists. The non-populists have a realistic assessment of the real level of poverty in their country. “Anyone looking to counteract populist tendencies should correct this overestimation of poverty with intelligent information and not fall into the same misinformation trap,” Thum says.

This survey interviewed people between the ages of 18 and 92. To assign participants to one of the three categories, they were asked which party they had voted for in the most recent election and which party they would vote for in the next election.

Questions can be directed to: Prof. Marcel Thum, 0049 351 264 76-19; Thum@ifo.de