Document Type : Commentary
School of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada
Southgate Institute of Health, Society and Equity, Flinders University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA, Australia
Our paper responds to a narrative review on the influence of populist radical right parties (PRRPs) on welfare policy and its implications for population health in Europe. Five aspects of their review are striking: (i) welfare chauvinism is higher in tax-funded healthcare systems; (ii) PRRPs in coalition with liberal or social democratic parties are able to shift welfare reform in a more chauvinistic direction; (iii) coalitions involving PRRPs can buffer somewhat the drift to welfare chauvinism, but not by much; (iv) the European Union (EU) and its healthcare policies has served somewhat as a check on PRRPs’ direct influence on healthcare welfare chauvinism; (v) PRRPs perform a balancing act between supporting their base and protecting elected power. We note that PRRPs are not confined to Europe and examine the example of Trump’s USA, arguing that the Republican Party he dominates now comes close to the authors’ definition of a PRRP. We applaud the authors’ scoping review for adding to the literature on political determinants of health but note the narrow frame on welfare policy could be usefully expanded to other areas of public policy. We examine three of such areas: the extent to which policy protects those who are different from mainstream society in terms of race, ethnicity, gender or sexuality; the debate between free trade and protectionism; and the rejection of climate change science by many PRRPs. Our analysis concludes that PRRPs promote agendas which are antithetical to eco-socially just population health, and conclude for a call for more research on the political determinants of health.