Steven Van Hauwaert

Dr Steven Van Hauwaert


Academic and research departments

Department of Politics.



Research interests

My publications


Steven M. Van Hauwaert, Christian H. Schimpf, Régis Dandoy (2019)Populist demand, economic development and regional identity across nine European countries: exploring regional patterns of variance, In: European Societies21(2)pp. 303-325 Taylor & Francis

Today, populism has gradually become one of the most talked about, most studied phenomena, both within and beyond academia. Most studies of populism focus on its conceptualisation, operationalisation, measurement or its outcomes. However, adding to the growing empirical analysis of populism, we propose to study populism as a regional-level phenomenon and explain regional patterns of variation in the populist demand. To do so, we develop a series of theoretical arguments from, which we subsequently test empirically. Specifically, we argue that higher levels of regional populism demand are associated with (i) economic hardship, (ii) strong institutional autonomy, (iii) strong territorial identity, and (iv) greater distance to elites. We construct a populist index for 143 regions across nine countries and combine this with a unique and rich regional database. While we find that populism holds distinct regional patterns and there is support for classic predictors like economic hardship, we are also able to provide some unique insights into the regional foundations of populism, most notably the predictive power of regional identity and the distance to national elites.

Steven M. Van Hauwaert, Christian H Schimpf, Flavio Azevedo (2019)The measurement of populist attitudes: Testing cross-national scales using item response theory, In: Politics1(19) SAGE Publications

Recent research in the populism literature has devoted considerable efforts to the conceptualisation and examination of populism on the individual level, that is, populist attitudes. Despite rapid progress in the field, questions of adequate measurement and empirical evaluation of measures of populist attitudes remain scarce. Seeking to remedy these shortcomings, we apply a cross-national measurement model, using item response theory, to six established and two new populist indicators. Drawing on a cross-national survey (nine European countries, n = 18,368), we engage in a four-folded analysis. First, we examine the commonly used 6-item populism scale. Second, we expand the measurement with two novel items. Third, we use the improved 8-item populism scale to further refine equally comprehensive but more concise and parsimonious populist measurements. Finally, we externally validate these sub-scales and find that some of the proposed sub-scales outperform the initial 6- and 8-item scales. We conclude that existing measures of populism capture moderate populist attitudes, but face difficulties measuring more extreme levels, while the individual information of some of the populist items remains limited. Altogether, this provides several interesting routes for future research, both within and between countries.