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Title: Inequality, macroeconomic performance and political polarization: An empirical analysis Authors:  Juan Carlos Pena - University of Bamberg (Germany) [presenting]
Abstract: There is an unprecedented wave of populist movements across Western Europe and beyond in the last years. The increasing electoral support of these populist movements was a signal that at any time they can obtain the political power. This is how Italy was the first that will be governed by a populist coalition during the next years. The aim is to investigate the determinants of political polarization with special focus on income inequality. We construct a dataset for 20 advanced countries using annual data ranging from 1970 to 2016 by covering 292 parliamentary elections. We show that a) traditional mainstream parties (center-left, center, and center-right) are punished for bad economic conditions; b) far-left (populist and radical parties) parties benefit under economic distress; c) greater income inequality shift voting behavior and rise the electoral support of far-left parties; d) far- right (populist and radical parties) parties benefit with recession but not from financial crises and finally; e) It seems that social globalization plays also a role, in particular for far-right parties.