Informed, uninformed or misinformed? A cross-national analysis of populist party supporters across European democracie
West European Politics
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Recent research suggests that populist party supporters are not necessarily unsophisticated protest voters. This leads us to question the still popular assumption that these individuals are politically uninformed. Simultaneously, given the current political and media climate and debates about ‘fake news’, we ask to what extent misinformation, i.e. the possession of erroneous political information, stimulates populist party support. We rely on survey data from nine European democracies to assess to what extent populist party supporters differ from abstainers and non-populist party supporters in terms of their political information and misinformation. We find that holding correct political information relates positively to the likelihood to turn out, whether it is to support populist or non-populist parties. We further find that political misinformation relates positively to support for right-wing populist parties. Our findings provide a first empirical and comparative contribution to recent debates that seek to connect misinformation and political behaviour.