Če je bila, kot kažejo empirične študije, podpora Brexitu dodatno ojačana z radikalno politiko varčevanja (austerity) Cameronove vlade po finančni krizi in če je podpora Trumpu najbolj zrasla v tistih ameriških okrožjih, ki so bila po “kitajskem šoku” najbolj prizadeta in ki so jih ameriške redistributivne politike povsem zaobšle, potem se velja vprašati kakšna je regionalna porazdelitev porasta populizma v EU v odvisnosti od transferjev. Natanko to so v zadnji študiji “Populist Voting and Losers’ Discontent: Does Redistribution Matter?” naredili Albanese, Barone & de Blasio (2019). Za Italijo so analizirali, ali se je populizem manj povečal v regijah in mestih, ki so bile prejemnice EU sredstev.
In rezultati potrjujejo, da je v regijah, ki so bile prejemnice EU sredstev, delež glasov populističnih strank na volitvah za 2.5 do 3 odstotne točke manjši. Iz tega Albanese et al potegnejo sklep, da je fiskalna politika, vsaj na srednji rok, učinkovito sredstvo proti porastu populizma.
Looking for the causes of populism in Western countries, a recent but rapidly growing literature points to explanations related to economic factors (Colantone and Stanig 2019, Guiso et al. 2017, Guriev 2018). Economic shocks like import competition from low-labour-cost countries, robotisation, and the Great Recession, among others, increased economic insecurity that, in turn, translated in larger support for populist parties. The main policy implication is that social sustainability calls for appropriate redistributive policies aimed at alleviating economic difficulties (IGM Forum 2019). Nevertheless, very little is known about the effectiveness of such policies in reducing populism.
Do transfers affect populist voting?
In Albanese et al. (2019), we contribute to this debate by analysing the role of redistribution across territories. In fact, spatial inequality appears to be a relevant dimension when it comes to identifying winners and losers from recent economic shocks (Rodríguez-Pose 2018). We study EU regional policy during the 2007–2013 programming period. The lion’s share of funds went to the regions with per capita GDP under the threshold of 75% of the EU average (Convergence Objective status). Our empirical analysis focuses on 2013 general elections held in Italy, one of the frontline countries facing the rise of populism. In this country, five out of 20 NUTS-2 regions (all in the South: Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Puglia and Sicily) formed part of the Convergence Objective (Figure 1); the rest received much less money (within the Competitiveness and Employment Objective).
Did exposure to the Convergence Objective programme have an impact on the vote for populists? We measure populism using Inglehart and Norris’s (2019) populism scores and then map the respective populist parties’ vote shares in respective municipalities. Overall, in our sample the resulting populist vote share equals 54%. Regression discontinuity estimates indicate that crossing the border from North to South is associated with a significant decrease in political preferences for populism. The size of the estimated impact is rather large. In our sample, the average populist vote share drops by about 2.5-3 percentage points as a consequence of the Convergence Objective treatment.
Figure 3 Impact of Convergence Objective treatment on populist vote share
We also highlight a number of additional findings:
First, following Inglehart and Norris (2019), our measure of populism summarises two cleavages:
- The anti-establishment/anti-elite ideology, which considers society to be ultimately separated into two homogenous and antagonistic groups – the ‘pure people’ vs the ‘corrupt elite’ – and argues that politics should be an expression of the will of the people.
- The authoritarian belief in a strictly ordered society, in which infringements of authority are to be punished severely.
In our empirical investigation, only the first reflects redistribution.
Second, we find that EU transfers also decrease voter turnout. The effect is very large, at 9 percentage points.
Finally, we find that EU funds have the same effect, irrespective of the specific channels – investment- or consumption-oriented – through which they are injected into local communities.
Vir: Albanese, Barone & de Blasio, VoxEU