Populism, Elites and Euroscepticism – the case of Austria

Research Paper by Costanza Caputi



Populism is a spreading phenomenon across Europe. Much of it is directed against the European Union, as austerity and economic stagnation seem to fuel anti-EU protest votes. The Austrian case, however, demonstrates that populism is a complex phenomenon that cannot be dismissed as a product of socio-economic malaise. Rather, its presence points at a profound discontent with the political system and distrust of political elites. Furthermore, its root causes are to be found in the ‘wounded’ relationship between elites and peoples. The lessons drawn at national level hold true for the EU, too. The time of ‘permissive consensus’ is over and European elites need to mend fences with the broader public, if they are seriously concerned about the risks of populism.