A Resilient Hegemonic Project? The Successful Containment of Populism by Key Actors in the Danish Growth Model

Rune Møller Stahl*, Christoph Ellersgaard

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearch


In this article we show how key members of the Danish power elite have defended and advanced their political interests in the face of rising right populism. By utilising growth model theory, we identify the dominant interest and hegemonic project uniting a cross-class, export-oriented growth coalition. As this hegemonic project is deeply embedded in elite networks, growth coalition partners were able to cooperate with and integrate right populism into an electoral alliance. However, as real contradictions between populism and growth coalition became increasingly salient, key actors in the elite network eventually symbolically distances themselves from populists, marginalising them in the process. We conducted 37 semi-structured interviews with highly influential elite figures to identify the core tenets of the hegemonic project and their attitudes towards populism. By analysing the discursive construction of populism as political ally and adversary, combined with historical studies of political reforms, we show how vital issues of contention between the growth coalition and the populist agenda did not become high salience issues in public debate, thus allowing elites to dominate through quiet politics. Our study shows that elites’ strategies towards populism must be understood through the salience of the issues of contradiction between populists and growth coalitions.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2023
Number of pages26
Publication statusPublished - 2023
EventSASE 35th Annual Conference 2023: Socio-Economics in a Transitioning World: Breaking Lines and Alternative Paradigms for a New World Order - Windsor Florida Hotel, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Duration: 20 Jul 202322 Jul 2023
Conference number: 35


ConferenceSASE 35th Annual Conference 2023
LocationWindsor Florida Hotel
CityRio de Janeiro
Internet address

Cite this