Both political and social environments of Western democracies have been disturbed by the riseof populist parties. In the past few years, populist leaders such as Marine Le Pen and NigelFarage that have continued to gain and increase their support and prominence in politics. AcrossEurope, their electoral votes have more than doubled since the 60s, reaching 13.
2%, at theexpense of centre parties (Inglehart, Norris, 2016). From these numbers, one can assert that therise of populism is not a concocted over-exaggeration by mainstream media but rather a very realphenomena deeming academic analysis. Discourse on populism tends explain this ascend by 1)institutional rules of the game regulating the market for party competition, 2) the supply side ofusing populism as a strategy by political leaders and parties 3) the demand side role of attitudes,values and opinions of voters. There is sufficient amount of literature focusing on the first twocategories but the demand-side of populism has been loosely analysed. We will attempt toremedy that in this paper by looking at the case of France.
Due to education’s ability in shaping attitudes, values and opinions towards voting, we shall useit as our primary independent variable. Therefore, this paper aims to analyse the significance ofeducation in explaining the rise of populism in France, using the results of the ESS survey of2016. The recent political developments have motivated our interest in education as a mainexplanatory variable. Indeed, we see from charts made after the Brexit vote in the UK that thepeople that had a higher level of education were more likely to vote Remain (Rosenbaum, 2017).
This made us wonder whether education would have a significant impact on other importantissues, such as populism. We have chosen the latter as our dependent variable. To have a moreprecise analysis, our sample has been limited to France, as it is a country that has been subject tothe recent threat of populism. Also, the voting system in France allows even smaller parties tostand a chance in the elections, which we thought would improve the quality of our analysis as itwould be less restricted than if we had done the same in the UK.