Evelyne Hübscher gives interview to RTÉ on austerity and political polarisation

March 1, 2021

SPP associate professor Evelyne Hübscher has been interviewed by the Irish public radio (RTÉ) on her research on austerity and political polarisation.

According to her research, we could observe that polarization in most party systems has increased considerably over the past decades. Her paper (co-authored with Markus Wagner from the University of Vienna and Thomas Sattler from the University of Geneva) shows that fiscal policy-making, in particular austerity measures, have contributed to this development. They find that austerity increases both electoral abstention and votes for non-mainstream parties, thereby boosting the polarization of the party system. This macro-finding is supported on the one hand by a detailed analysis of selected fiscal adjustment episodes in a number of countries, and on the other hand by survey experiments fielded in four countries. Both analyses show that new, small and radical parties benefit most from austerity policies. The survey experiments further reveal that the effects of austerity on polarization are particularly pronounced when the mainstream right and left parties both propose austerity policies. Austerity, therefore, is a major determinant of political destabilization in industrialized democracies.

The interview is available online.