The Populist Signal

June 11, 2015 by Claudia Chwalisz

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The social and economic shifts of the past few decades have hardened the deeply held scepticism and distrust of ‘the establishment’. In an age of historically low party membership, party identification, voter volatility, rising abstentionism and greater individualism, mainstream parties are struggling to be representative. This book is about the turbulent political scene unfolding in Britain and across western Europe. It focuses on why large swathes of voters feel that politics does not work, how this fuels support for insurgent parties and actors, and it investigates the power of democratic innovations. Drawing on new survey data in the UK, as well as interviews and case studies, the book shows that people are concerned with the process of politics, not merely its performance, and that they have a genuine desire for greater political participation in the decision-making process. These new forms of political engagement should not feel like a threat to formal systems of government, but as much-needed additions that enrich democracy.