Riksbank Research Paper Series No. 9

Riksbank Working Paper Series No. 166

22 Pages Posted: 7 Aug 2006

Date Written: August 2006


In their pursuit of being elected, politicians might not provide their constituents with independent viewpoints, but just try to outguess popular opinion. Although such behaviour compromises the quality of policy proposals, a candidate can not resist resorting to it when the spoils of office are too large. Importantly, the public's trust or distrust in politicians may be self-fulfilling prophecies. The reason is that when voters evaluate policy proposals, they put more faith in their prior opinion the lower is the supposed quality of a proposal. Hence, if voters think that a politician is a populist, any discrepancy between her proposal and their own prior becomes more damaging for the politician's election chances. Ironically however, this only increases the politician's incentive

Keywords: Popular opinion, pandering, political trust, electoral competition, candidate motivation

JEL Classification: D72, D82

Suggested Citation

Frisell, Lars, Populism (August 2006). Riksbank Research Paper Series No. 9, Riksbank Working Paper Series No. 166, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=922667 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.922667

Lars Frisell (Contact Author)

Sveriges Riksbank ( email )

S-103 37 Stockholm