Recent electoral victories of populist parties in European countries, including Slovakia and the Netherlands, as well as the continued popularity of Donald Trump in the U.S., suggest that populism remains a challenge for European politics. Exploring this phenomenon, Maria Snegovaya's new book — When Left Moves Right: The Decline of the Left and the Rise of the Populist Right in Postcommunist Europe — makes an original argument about the rise of populism in postcommunist Europe by focusing on the pro-market rebranding of left-wing parties. Her book argues that, as a result of this rebranding, traditional supporters of the left (working-class and other economically vulnerable groups) were eventually alienated by neoliberal economic policies and the middle-class voters newly drawn to these parties did not compensate for those losses. In response, right-wing populists in their respective countries adopted more redistributive economic platforms consistent with the preferences of former supporters of the left and incorporated sizable shares of these electorates. This has contributed to the growth of right-wing populist parties in countries with a pro-market left. The book traces this process on different levels of analysis: cross-country observational data, case studies, and individual-level experimental surveys. It also offers policy recommendations about ways for left-wing parties to regain their redistributionist platforms and re-attract traditional electorates, thereby curtailing the rise of populism.
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