This study investigates the societal demand for populist leaders and policies in North Macedonia. It seeks to expand the current understanding of populism as a threat to democracy by addressing the lack of data on this phenomenon in underdeveloped democracies. Given the general democratic setbacks in the Western Balkans region and the growing number of populist actors taking or expanding their political power, this study seeks to understand which social, economic, cultural and psychological factors drive the populist attitudes among the population in such a context.
Populist tendencies or attitudes of the population as a potential factor contributing to the deterioration of the state of democracy have not been extensively explored in the context of the Western Balkans and North Macedonia. This study fills that gap, focusing exclusively on the potential for populist politics among the population. Given the current state of populism in the region, this study highlights the importance of exploring the reasons for the ever-growing support for populist leaders and policies. Furthermore, this study contributes to research on populism between countries that integrate different contexts and research on many aspects of populism in different parts of the world, thus enabling critical comparisons in understanding phenomena. As such, it contributes to the literature and scholarly debate on comparative politics, democracy and democratisation, and populism.
The first section of this study focuses on the theories and research on which the research analysis was conducted, while the methodological design is provided in the second section. In the third section, descriptive analysis is used where we measure the tendency of citizens to cultivate populist feelings, while the fourth section offers an exploratory analysis of survey data to examine the associations between the dependent variable for support of populism and the various characteristics of the respondents. The fifth section shows regression analyses conducted to enable empirical assessment of the main factors influencing populist attitudes among citizens. Finally, based on the data obtained through exploratory data analysis and regression analysis, the authors discuss possible “solutions” for reducing populist sentiment among the people, strengthening critical thinking, and support for democracy.
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