Authoritarian Populism Index.

The Authoritarian Populism Index is developed by Timbro.

Timbro is the leading free market think tank in the Nordic countries. Our mission is to promote and disseminate ideas supporting the principles of free markets, free enterprise, individual liberty and a free society. Timbro was founded in 1978 by Sture Eskilsson and the Swedish Employers’ Association, a precursor to the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise.  Since 2003, Timbro is financed by the Swedish Free Enterprise Foundation.


International outreach and translation supported by Friedrich Naumann Foundation and Atlas Network.

method & data

This report aims to map broad ideological trends in European politics, particularly focussing on parties that may pose a threat to liberal democracy, market economy, and the rule of law. To achieve this, we classified and indexed parties based on ideology and, where relevant, further distinguished them as either authoritarian or populist.


Our categorisation of parties aims to align with how parties perceive themselves as well as how they are typically described in media and research. While categorising mainstream parties such as social democratic, green, liberal, conservative, and Christian democratic is usually straightforward, categorising populist and authoritarian parties poses additional challenges, as few parties self-identify as such. Therefore, our categorisation relies heavily on previous research, albeit consensus may be lacking. Further, parties have been classified as authoritarian under two different circumstances: if they openly advocate non-democratic ideologies – e.g., Marxism-Leninism, fascism, Nazism – or if they have demonstrated a willingness to abandon democratic principles while in power – e.g., Fidesz, PiS, Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS).

In post-communist Europe, parties may be anti-establishment and populist in rhetoric while adhering to liberal, pro-European, and pro-market ideas. Such parties have not been included in this index, acknowledging that strong anti-establishment sentiment can sometimes coexist with respect for democratic and liberal ideals, particularly in unconsolidated democracies.


This index also acknowledges that parties may change their ideological foundations over time. Sometimes, a change is caused by a decision in a party congress or a shift in leadership. Sometimes, these changes occur gradually, which makes it hard to determine the precise juncture at which a change from one ideology to another takes effect. In light of this, it should be noted that our index relies heavily on secondary literature.


Political parties typically aim at one or more of three general goals: office, vote and influence. Even though these goals are logically compatible – increased voter support leads to influence and a more likely path to political positions – parties sometimes have to prioritise between them. The index studies to what extent populist parties have succeeded in reaching two of these goals: votes and office. Influence on policy is beyond the scope of this index.


The index spans thirty-one countries, including all EU members, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, from when they became independent and began holding democratic elections.


Election results have been used to measure the demand for authoritarian populism. The index covers all elections from 1945 to 2023. A European mean value based on the previous election in each country is provided in order to give an easy-to-read overview of year-to-year changes. Hence, the Swedish election of 2018 provides the basis for the Swedish average also in 2019, 2020, and 2021, while the election of 2022 provides the basis for 2022 and 2023. In other words, the index answers the question of how many voters picked an authoritarian populist party at the turn of the year of the last election.Thus the result will not depend on whether a certain country had an election in a given year, nor on the number of countries having an election in a given year. European elections, and in some cases regional elections, are discussed in the report but not included in the index.


In cases where a country holds multiple elections in one year, only the last election results are included. The index encompasses all political parties winning at least 1 per cent of the vote in a national election, with smaller parties included if categorisation is straightforward.