A Theory of Right-Wing Populism


This paper presents an explanation to observed trends in redistribution, polarization and right-wing populism. We extend a one-dimensional voting model by taking into account that voters, in addition to having economic preferences, also care about cultural issues. We show that political parties diverge in the cultural dimension to be able to implement different tax rates, and that this effect is particularly strong for the right-wing party. A higher level of pre-tax income inequality makes it more difficult to win the election by proposing a low tax rate, but the right-wing party may be able to win the election by bundling a low tax rate with a focus on cultural issues.

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