Polarisation and populism

Budget cuts play into opposition's hands, divide society-expert


Government budget cuts usually play into the hands of the opposition and contribute to systemic polarisation in society, political scientist Vlastimil Havlík said in a commentary on today's strike and trade union protests in Czechia. As for the current government, it has been far from helped by its internally contradictory and thus incomprehensible communication, sometimes bordering on arrogance, Havlík wrote2023-11-27 00:00:00

Havlík recalled that one of the most studied areas of political science is the impact of the economy on voters' electoral decision-making and support for political parties, the so-called economic voting. The basic premise is that a large proportion of voters make decisions based on the impact of government policies on their own economic situation.

When governments resort to budgetary austerity, some voters turn to parties that oppose these moves. Often they are attracted by radical or populist parties, or decide not to participate in the next election, Havlík said.

"Both types of behaviour result in increased political polarisation. Outside of elections, fiscal austerity measures imply a higher probability of unconventional forms of political participation, such as strikes," he said.

"It is difficult to predict the results of a regular election two years in advance, but political science research speaks clearly: austerity fiscal policies do not pay much to governments. The cuts play into the hands of the opposition and, as a result, lead to a rise in the system's polarisation, all factors that have been confirmed by recent opinion polls," Havlík added.


Doc. Mgr. et Mgr. Vlastimil Havlík Ph.D.

Position: Senior researcher
+420 549 494 609