This article investigates the impact of sub-national contextual variations on the performance of populist actors in a country in which several electorally relevant populist parties exist: Italy. By employing a multi-model Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) of the 2018 Italian general election, it explores the extent to which factors such as the distribution of ‘economic losers’ and the impact of migration, political discontent and societal malaise have influenced the performance of the Lega (League) and the Movimento Cinque Stelle (Five-star Movement, M5s). The study shows that, while the League has thrived especially in areas characterised by ‘cultural backlash’, but also in contexts characterized by Euroscepticism and societal malaise, the success of the M5s cannot be explained without reference to poor economic and institutional performances. Moreover, by stressing the advantages of assessing sub-national variations, the study encourages us to move away from one-size-fits-all grand narratives that see some factors (or combination of factors) as necessarily impacting populist performance throughout national territories in a consistent manner.
|Number of pages||29|
|Journal||Contemporary Italian Politics|
|Issue number||1 (2021)|
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - 17 Jul 2020|