Why do nations develop a nuclear arsenal? For years the comparative foreign policy debate has been lively, and examined a variety of different potential avenues. However, literature seems to suggest that something on the domestic level of analysis may be the key to answering this question. We propose that populism may be one of the causes that nations decide to nuclearize. By examining the levels of anti-establishment and anti-elite rhetoric as well as the amount that the populist party claims to being the voice of the people, we determined how populist the winning party was. From here we then looked for the country’s policy towards nuclear armaments, including ownership of self-developed nuclear weapons and/or testing nuclear weapons. Using empirical evidence, we examined for a relationship between a surge in populism, exceeding the standard deviation, and the country making and testing nuclear weapons. We also looked for a relationship between long term high levels of populism within a country and the country’s decision to nuclearize. We found evidence to suggest high levels of populism having a positive relationship with the country’s decision to nuclearize.


Lantis, Jeffrey


Political Science


Comparative Politics | International Relations | Other Political Science | Political Science


Nuclear Weapons, Nuclear Proliferation, Proliferation, Populism, Content Analysis

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2018 Nathaniel Moore