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Young democrats, critical citizens and protest voters: studying the profiles of movement party supporters

Santos, F. G. ORCID: 0000-0001-7006-2088 & Mercea, D. ORCID: 0000-0003-3762-2404 (2024). Young democrats, critical citizens and protest voters: studying the profiles of movement party supporters. Acta Politica, doi: 10.1057/s41269-023-00321-7


The rise of movement parties in Europe has disrupted traditional notions of party politics, introducing new avenues for citizen engagement and political mobilisation. This paper provides a comprehensive analysis of the electorate of movement parties, using nationally representative survey data from six European countries. We identify four types of movement parties: green/left-libertarian, far-right, eclectic, and centrist, and examine the distinct profiles of their voters. The only common characteristic we find across movement party supporters is their belief in the influence of protests. We argue that green/left-libertarian voters embody a generational gap in political participation, as they utilise both electoral and non-electoral engagement to express their post-industrial demands. Far-right voters are distinguished by their discontent with the democratic system and political elites, following the pattern of what others have referred to as 'protest voters'. Meanwhile, centrist and eclectic voters embody the profile of 'critical citizens', who support the democratic system but are dissatisfied with its current functioning. While we see movement parties as a genuine innovation in the internal structuring of party organisations, our study calls into question the utility of this concept when seeking to understand the behaviour of their electorate. We emphasise the importance of recognising the diverse motivations behind movement party support, enriching our understanding of the changing dynamics of party politics in Europe.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Publisher Keywords: Movement parties, Voting behaviour, Political participation
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
J Political Science
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs
School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
SWORD Depositor:
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Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution International Public License 4.0.

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