What drives people to accept or resist austerity? At this research seminar, Dr Theofanis Exadaktylos presented a paper that examines the way framing provided by populist leaders can activate certain emotions towards austerity.
Accepting that the key mechanism in populist framing is the ability to attribute blame to other agents, Dr Exadaktylos argued that populism is about the redistribution of anger and the main research question is: Does the framing of austerity policies affect the way those policies are perceived by the general public? Using the case of Greece as a country still under heavy austerity measures, Dr Exadaktylos examines how populist framing of austerity by non-austerity parties changes the levels of support for egocentric and sociotropic political issues. The paradox developing in the Greek case is that as an opposition party the left-wing party Syriza was a fervent opponent of austerity measures; yet once in government, Syriza implemented one of the harsher austerity packages for Greece. The paper argues that the framing of austerity policies under a populist anti-austerity party impacts the levels of agreement with such measures as they are perceived by the public. A vignette social experiment was employed where stories represent real situations (leaders' official statements on austerity in Greece) to elicit voters' preferences and judgements. This helps ascertain the degree of influence of the framing of austerity policy; whether it affects acceptance or toleration at the civic level; whether collective emotions of anger shape attitudes towards austerity; and whether civic populism (Mudde & Kaltwasser 2013) feeds into austerity policies. The primary findings suggest that although there is an ideological significance, people tend to be less resistant with austerity as a paradigm from political leaders who are able to shift the blame externally and provide reassurances of return to the status quo.
Dr Theofanis Exadaktylos (@EUforeignpolicy) is Senior Lecturer in European Politics at the University of Surrey and a visiting professor at the College of Europe. He holds a PhD in Politics from the University of Exeter, MSc in European Political Economy: Integration from the LSE and and BA in Economics and International Relations from Tufts University. His research agendas include Europeanization, public policy reforms and implementation, the politics of crisis, attitudes towards Europe in an age of austerity and the link between populism and public emotional economy, with specific focus on Greek politics. He is the co-editor of the Journal of Common Market Studies Annual Review since 2018 and he co-convenes the Standing Group on Political Methodology at the European Consortium of Political Research since 2015. He has been a consultant with the World Bank on Greece during the financial crisis. His work appears in major presses (Oxford University Press, Routledge, Palgrave Macmillan) and in key international journals, such as Journal of Common Market Studies, Journal of European Integration, Policy & Politics, Policy Studies Journal, International Journal of Communication, European Journal of Politics & Gender among others. He has frequently appeared on national and international media (print and electronic) as a commentator on current affairs in Greece, Southern Europe, European Union institutions and the Brexit negotiations.
Dr Spyros Economides is Associate Professor in International Relations and European Politics at the LSE and Deputy Director of the Hellenic Observatory. He received the Robert Mackenzie Prize for his doctoral thesis on The International Implications of the Greek Civil War. His subsequent work has concentrated on the international affairs of South-eastern Europe and EU external relations in the field of foreign and security policy on which he has published widely. His expertise focuses on: Balkans; EU foreign policy; European security; Greece; US foreign policy; foreign affairs; former Yugoslavia; Southeast Europe.
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The Hellenic Observatory (@HO_LSE) is internationally recognised as one of the premier research centres on contemporary Greece and Cyprus. It engages in a range of activities, including developing and supporting academic and policy-related research; organisation of conferences, seminars and workshops; academic exchange through visiting fellowships and internships; as well as teaching at the graduate level through LSE's European Institute.
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