Do Economic and Identity Cleavages Account For the Differences Between Left and Right Populism? Hungary, Venezuela, and the United States

24 May 2024, Version 1
This content is an early or alternative research output and has not been peer-reviewed at the time of posting.


Left and right wing populism are widely used concepts, but lack a developed theoretical framework. In this paper I describe a new model of right and left wing populism based on economic and identity cleavages developed by Mukand and Rodrik and give two examples–Fidesz in Hungary and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela—that fit the model. I use a computer generated content analysis of these cases to test the model. Initially I analyze the speeches of left (Hugo Chavéz) and right (Victor Orbán) populist leaders and find support for the model. For comparison, I examine the speeches of Barack Obama and Donald Trump. I find that Obama has no populist leanings but that Donald Trump has clear right populist tendencies. I conclude that the cleavage model shows promising results and present thoughts about how an analysis based on the model advances our understanding of left and right populism.


leadership studies
ethnic politics
cleavage model
content analysis
United States


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