Populist referendum: was 'Brexit' an expression of nativist and anti-elitist sentiment?

Iakhnis, E., Rathbun, B., Reifler, J. and Scotto, T. J. (2018) Populist referendum: was 'Brexit' an expression of nativist and anti-elitist sentiment? Research and Politics, 5(2), pp. 1-7. (doi: 10.1177/2053168018773964)

222446.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.



Was the outcome of the United Kingdom’s ‘Brexit’ referendum to leave the European Union a visible and consequential manifestation of right-wing populism? After all, skepticism in the UK towards the EU predates the recent rise of European right wing populism. Original survey data show, however, that the interaction of nativist sentiment and anti-elitist attitudes, the cocktail of right-wing populism, led to widespread support for Brexit, even while controlling for other factors. Although hostility to immigrants was an important factor, nativists were particularly prone to vote ‘leave’; if they also did not trust political elites, a crucial element of populism. Further underscoring this explanation is the conditional effect of anti-elite sentiment. The relationship between anti-elite sentiment and support for leaving the EU only exists among those with high nativist sentiment; among those low in nativist sentiment, anti-elite feelings did not increase support for Brexit.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This work was supported by Economic and Social Research Council grants No. RES-061-25-0405 and No. ES/L011867/1. This research has received funding from the European Research Council under the UN’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (grant agreement No. 682758).
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Scotto, Professor Thomas
Authors: Iakhnis, E., Rathbun, B., Reifler, J., and Scotto, T. J.
College/School:College of Social Sciences
Journal Name:Research and Politics
Publisher:SAGE Publications
ISSN (Online):2053-1680
Published Online:23 May 2018
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 The Authors
First Published:First published in Research and Politics 5(2): 1-7
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record