This work examines the electoral successes of anti-system forces in the rich democracies. It explains the rise of anti-system politicians and parties in terms of two separate but closely related developments: the rise of economic inequality and insecurity over the last four decades, and the failure of technocratic elites to address them.
The expanding literature on growth regimes has recently been applied to explain the growth of populist movements across the OECD. Such applications posit a stand-off between debtors and creditors as the core conflict that generates populism. While insightful, the theory has problems explaining why, in some European countries, such movements pre-date both the global financial crisis and the austerity measures that followed, factors that are commonly seen as causing the rise of populism. This article takes a different tack. It derives shifts in both political parties and party systems from the growth regime framework. In doing so it seeks to explain the evolution of the cartel form of party that dominated the political systems of Europe from the late 1990s through to the current period and why that form proved unable to respond meaningfully to both the financial crisis and the political crisis that followed it.