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2022 | Book

The Palgrave Handbook of Populism


About this book

This handbook assesses the phenomenon of populism—a concept frequently belabored, but often misunderstood in politics. Rising populism presents one of the great challenges for liberal democracies, but despite the large body of research, the larger picture remains elusive. This volume seeks to understand the causes and workings of modern-day populism, and plumb the depths of the fears and frustrations of people who have forsaken established parties. Although the main focus of this volume is political science, there are more disciplines represented in order to get a whole picture of the debate. It is comprised of strong empirical and theoretical papers that also bear social relevance.

Table of Contents


Populism–Introduction to & Some Reflections on the Concept

Chapter 1. The New Age of Populism: Reapproaching a Diffuse Concept

Populism has become one of the most frequently researched topics in political science and varying conceptualizations and definitions have arisen since the term evolved into an analytical tool in the 1950s. But despite this extensive research agenda, the concept of populism is illusive and contested. Further, it is used in science as well as politics for many regionally different phenomena throughout history. As such, the term is utilized to characterize parties, movements, supporters of certain policies, attitudes and much more. Speaking to the negative normative connotation populism has been ascribed, it is sometimes also used within politics to defame oppositional actors. These normative presumptions—be it positively or negatively—have not escaped science either. We argue that it is high time to re-assess populism, especially in regard to its suitability for and applicability in the scientific debate. To that end, we take a historic perspective, assessing the historic roots of the concept and identifying common conceptual elements as well as elements that are not constitutive from a conceptual point of view. We also discuss the relation between populism and democracy further, especially in terms of the relation between populism and extremism. Finally, we offer an eclectic definition and propose a six-step orientation that should be viewed as an axiom as a means to re-assert the scientific value of the concept of populism as well as populism research writ large.

Michael Oswald, Mario Schäfer, Elena Broda

Theoretical Critique

Chapter 2. The Past and Present of American Populism

In June 1892, a group of radical farmers gathered in the city of Omaha, Nebraska to start a movement that was to run in elections next year. In previous months, their formation had morphed into a fully-fledged party—the People’s Party—which earned itself the moniker ‘Populist’ somewhere in the previous year. In the 1880s, American farmers had developed a vast and intricate network of Farmers’ Alliances and producer cooperatives, and in the early 1890s these Alliances crystallized into the newly formed Party. This Party would fatally threaten Democratic hegemony in the South and redraw the map of radical politics for decades to come. Hundred-thirty years after Omaha, few concepts also exert more contemporary appeal than ‘populism’. Across disciplines, the term is now cast as anti-pluralist, exclusionary, impatient with checks and balances, and obsessed with institutional shortcuts. More than a convenient bugbear, ‘populism’ appears as the alpha and omega of our democratic crisis. This chapter complicates this one-sidedly negative view of populism, often narrowly drawn from European examples. It does so by a return to the original American Populists of the late nineteenth century—the inventors of the term—as a powerful counterpoint to current accounts of the phenomenon as an ‘exclusionary and anti-pluralist form of identity politics’ (Jan-Werner Müller) or ‘illiberal democracy’ (Cas Mudde). In the wake of the American Civil War, Populists in the People’s Party, Knights of Labour, and Farmers’ Alliances built a bi-racial movement which knit workers and farmers together in a broad ‘producerist’ coalition. Some of the most famous works of American history have been written on this movement. Often enough, however, its intellectual roots have remained buried in favor of chiefly organizational or political narratives—or mistakenly diagnosed with rot. In short, scholars have refused to cast Populists as worthy of engagement as political theorists. This chapter combines the history of political thought and political economy to offer a comprehensive political theory of the late nineteenth-century American Populist movement and how they reinvented their country’s republican tradition.

Anton Jäger
Chapter 3. Populism Is Hegemony Is Politics? Ernesto Laclau’s Theory of Populism

Ernesto Laclau’s On Populist Reason is written in a way that renders its subject matter a continuation, enhancement and confirmation of his post-Gramscian theory of hegemony. Hegemony is the medium through which populism unfolds and it is often difficult to tell them apart. I address some conceptual knots in Laclau’s arguments. Among them, the problems of using crises as a precondition for populism, of describing the populist plebs as the sole legitimate people, of looking at populism as an analog of all politics and of posing the notion of “demand” as the basic unit of analysis of all politics. I also discuss the claim that the symbolic unification of the group around an individuality is inherent in the formation of a people.

Benjamin Arditi
Chapter 4. “An Antipodean Populism? Winston Peters, New Zealand First, and the Problems of Misclassification”

This chapter problematizes claims by (Mudde and Kaltwasser in Populism: A very short introduction. Oxford University Press, 2017) and (Moffitt in The Oxford handbook of populism. Oxford University Press, Oxford, England, 2017) that there is a coherent “Antipodean populism” in which Pauline Hanson’s One Nation (ON) and Winston Peters’ New Zealand First (NZF) can be paralleled in terms of a range of characteristics, which collectively distinguish them from their populist counterparts in Western Europe or the Americas. I critique Moffitt’s paralleling of the two parties based on his “three enemies argument,” which sees Antipodean populism as being anti-elitist, anti-immigrant, and anti-Indigenous. I divide this chapter into four sections. First, I provide an overview of how populism has been defined, before then turning to an analysis of how Moffitt advances a distinct Antipodean form of populism. Second, I follow this with a brief discussion of NZ’s settler context before moving in the third part to a brief discussion of how Hanson’s ON ably adheres to Moffitt’s understanding of the Antipodean style. In the final section, I focus on Peters and the NZF, noting that Moffitt’s approach ignores the settler nature of New Zealand society and the growing development of a bicultural ethos over the past four decades.

David B. MacDonald
Chapter 5. A Critique of Left-Wing Populism: Critical Materialist and Social-Psychological Perspectives

More than one decade after the major crisis of the capitalist world-economy in 2007/2008, the political landscape in many nation-states has witnessed a significant shift to the right, an increasing attraction to authoritarian forms of conflict resolution and paranoid ideologies such as racism and antisemitism. In a situation of weakness, stagnation, and confusion about the elements, origins, and repercussions of this shift, parts of the political and academic left have begun to fundamentally reconsider the coordinates of their political strategies and visions. It is especially the project of left-wing populism which has gained prominence as a new intellectual and political approach. Its most influential theoretical justification can undoubtedly be found in the collaborative work of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe. The most effective way to counter the rise of right-wing populism, they argue, is to develop an alternative notion of “the people” rather than rejecting it entirely. More specifically, they suggest to re-orientate the notion of “the enemy” away from migrants and people of color and toward what they call “the elite” or “the oligarchy”. In its left-wing form, they conclude, populism represents the emancipatory potential of democratic politics.Laclau and Mouffe’s embrace of the “populist moment” has been widely criticized. While Marxist critics focus on the insufficiencies of their socio-economic analysis, (left-)liberal critics put a stronger emphasis on the authoritarian, anti-pluralistic, and anti-liberal implications of both left-wing and right-wing populisms. However, there is still a lack of a critical analysis of both the socio-historical conditions and the political-ideological consequences of the left-wing populist dichotomy between “the people” and “the elite”. It is such a comprehensive approach which this paper sets out to develop. Drawing on the materialist critical theory and social psychology developed by Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno, the paper interrogates the contradictory promises and regressive entanglements of the post-Marxist attempt to rehabilitate ‘the people’. Most notably, it is argued that Laclau and Mouffe’s model of left-wing populism is based on a Manichaean, personalized world-view that fails to take into account the impersonal, anonymous aspects of modern, capitalist relations of domination and coercion, as well an ahistorical notion of affect which, instead of strengthening processes of critical (self-)reflection, reinforces the unconscious experience of suffering and dissatisfaction and thus rationalizes the fertile ground for collective aggression against imagined “others”. Against this background, the paper concludes that left-wing populism fails to provide a sustainable alternative to the contemporary rise of right-wing movements.

Helge Petersen, Hannah Hecker

The Political Psychology of Populism & its Affective Underpinnings

Chapter 6. The Psychology of Populism

Much work focuses on the nature of populism, as a communicative style and a weak ideology, yet little work has explored the appeal of populism. The work introduces evidence that populism appeals most to citizens who feel disenfranchised and marginalized yet belong to the majority ethnic group. Drawing on work around identity, we show how populist appeals position the pure people against out of touch or corrupt elites and migrants who threaten their status. The lack of sophistication of marginalized groups leads them find resonance in populist’s simple eye-catching, controversial, and amusing statements and join echo chambers which reinforce their Manichean, us versus them, view of the world supported by the dynamics of the modern communication environment.

Darren G. Lilleker, Nathalie Weidhase
Chapter 7. Emotional Mobilization: The Affective Underpinnings of Right-Wing Populist Party Support

Right-wing populist parties have been a fixture of Western European party systems for several decades. Once considered ‘flash parties’ they have become fixed part of the political landscape. Several factors account for their ability to put down roots: For one, right-wing populist parties offer an attractive mixture of anti-establishment rhetoric (populism) and exclusionary policy programs (nativism) which appeals to a diverse range of constituencies. At the same time, they evoke and play to a range of strong emotions engendered by large-scale structural changes, which threaten to disrupt the lives of a substantial number of citizens in Western societies.

Hans-Georg Betz, Michael Oswald
Chapter 8. From Specific Worries to Generalized Anger: The Emotional Dynamics of Right-Wing Political Populism

Right-wing populist parties have transformed the political landscape across many advanced, democratic economies. Their continued strength has been linked to an increasing sense of both economic and cultural insecurity, driven by the conjunction of economic deregulation, globalization, and increased socio-cultural competition. However, socioeconomic factors alone do not fully capture the dynamics of populist activation and support. In this chapter, we argue that emotional processes are a fundamental component that underpins support for right-wing populist parties. We argue that one ignored mechanism of ‘“ressentiment’” explains how support for right-wing populists can transform specific and targeted negative emotions, such as insecurity and worries, into generalized anger and resentment. We furthermore propose that this generalized anger does not only create a new political identity of shared grievance, it also furthers political polarization and leads to further strengthening of a newly found right-wing populist lifeworld.

Christoph Giang Nguyen, Mikko Salmela, Christian von Scheve

Authoritarian Populism & Fascism

Chapter 9. Fascism and Populism

This chapters analyzes the similarities and differences between fascism and populism. Differently from fascism that is confined to a particular moment in history and that later become postfascism, populism has emerged in different historical constellations. Like fascists, populists construct the people as one, have charismatic leaders, and face enemies, yet they do not use violence to purge the nation from the other and their legitimacy lies in winning elections. Could right-wing populism that use race and ethnicity to construct the people and its enemies and praise paramilitary groups mutate into postfascism?

Carlos de la Torre
Chapter 10. Populism and Authoritarianism

Over the last few years, authoritarian populist parties and politicians have emerged in many different and varying parts of the world. Trump in the United States. Orbán in Hungary. Duterte in the Philippines. Most if not all of these leaders have come to power by utilizing a form of populism, namely, by claiming to represent the will of the people and dividing the general populace into antagonistic and sympathetic camps. This trend in authoritarian populism is notable in two respects. First, it encompasses a wide swath of the world’s large and powerful countries, many of which are democracies. Second, the trend has broad support in each country’s respective populace. For example, in the United States, Trump was chosen by large portions of the American electorate. Many scholars agree that this global turn to authoritarian populism is a result of the failures of globalization. When promises of increased economic growth failed to materialize, globalization has instead resulted in deindustrialization, accelerating inequality and dramatic economic restructuring, political unrest, and a rise in nationalism. These trends were intensified during and after the 2008 financial crisis, making many populations worldwide dissatisfied with the world order. The electoral successes of authoritarian populist parties beg the question if authoritarian populism and its leaders can ever result in truly progressive policies and if populism can be democratic at its core? This chapter will analyze three case studies of the authoritarian populist parties’ successes and investigate the extent to which progressive policies have emerged from these party’s leadership and whether populism fits within a democratic model of governance.

Gabriella Gricius
Chapter 11. Authoritarian Populism and Collective Memory Manipulation

The combination of authoritarian and populist politics very often brings about the practice of memory manipulations. This happened both in a more distant and contemporary history, in a domestic narrative as well as in a transnational discourse. Therefore, the paper tries to identify the sources, mechanisms and consequences of authoritarian and populist practices when combined to collective memory manipulations. This chapter focuses on what lesson we can draw from the literature and practice of authoritarianism and populism for collective memory manipulations as well for memory studies in general. The identified mechanisms of authoritarian populism will be organized in an analytical framework which will serve as a theoretical groundwork for further memory studies. The author believes that authoritarian populism (as an analytical concept) can act as a justified approach to the memory (and identity) studies.

Rafał Riedel
Chapter 12. The (Almost) Forgotten Elitist Sources of Right-Wing Populism Kaltenbrunner, Höcke and the Distaste for the Masses

This paper seeks to analyze right-wing populism not merely as a branch of populism but as a specific tendency of the political right, using the German–Austrian context as an example. It shows how elitist contents and concepts of state and society are taking on a populist shape. Thus, a line is traced from proto-fascist elite sociology via elitist discussions within the new right to positions in populist parties of the right. In order to achieve this, the paper provides a comparative case study focusing on the utterances of Austrian new-rightist publicist Gerd-Klaus Kaltenbrunner and the German AfD politician Björn Höcke and uncovers Höcke’s programmatic indebtedness to Kaltenbrunner.

Phillip Becher

Economic Populism, Inequality & Crises

Chapter 13. Populism and the Economics of Antitrust

Economic populism is multi-faceted but includes, as one of its essential facets, antitrust populism which stands for the populist use of competition rules and enforcement for politically-motivated reasons. Why is antitrust important for the understanding of populism? Reversely, why is populism an unavoidable feature which helps us better understanding the development of antitrust enforcement in the US and also helps us shedding insightful lights onto the European competition practice? Delving into the intricacies of populism, economics and antitrust shall help us better grasp the important relationship, yet overlooked, between the populism and antitrust. In this Chapter, I will discuss the extent to which political and economic populisms are intertwined (I), and the extent to which the general characteristics of economic populism (II) are illustrated in the current antitrust populism (III). Then, I demonstrate the risks entailed by the revival of antitrust populism, particularly on institutional structures and weakening of internal checks. I finally assess the legitimacy of the relationship between unfair competition and trade (IV). Antitrust populism appears to have fundamentally shaped antitrust history and is predicted to persist in its influence in enforcing antitrust and in fueling general (economic) populism in societies.

Aurelien Portuese
Chapter 14. The Red Herring of Economic Populism

Popular among economists, pundits and policymakers, the theory of economic populism is used to criticize expansionist policies purportedly enacted by fiscally irresponsible populist governments. Introduced by Jeffrey Sachs, Rüdiger Dornbusch and Sebastian Edwards in 1989, the theory maintains that such policies put into motion a cycle of economic devastation where populists register initial successes but soon face bottlenecks and other market failures that lead to hyperinflation and balance-of-payments problems, ending with regime change and the restoration of orthodox policies. On their part, political scientists have strongly resisted economically deterministic interpretations of populism, submitting adequate evidence that populist phenomena are not associated with particular economic policies. However, the popularity of economic populism remains intact. This article opens a new and expanded line of criticism by exposing the normative historical foundations of the theory of economic populism, while highlighting an array of conceptual, methodological and empirical flaws that render it unfit for scientific purposes. The insistence on its use despite obvious analytical shortcomings is explained as an artifact of economic populism’s ideologically weaponized nature.

Paris Aslanidis
Chapter 15. Populist Mobilization in the United States: Adding Political Economy to Cultural Explanations

Populism is looming large on the agenda of the social sciences. In most cases the literature deals with related phenomena in the context of liberal and representative democracies, often defining populism as an anti-pluralist “exclusionary form of identity politics” (Müller,.What is populism?, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016: 3) or as an authoritarian “cultural backlash” (Norris and Inglehart,.Cultural backlash: Trump, Brexit, and authoritarian populism, Cambridge University Press, 2019). In this chapter, we try to shift the focus away from populist actors, parties and governments and address instead the political, economic and social contexts in which populism can become successful in mobilizing electoral majorities in the first place. We are less interested in a normative discussion of populism nor do we explore the type of programs populists might pursue once in office (see Lammert, C. (2020). The Crisis of Democracy: The United States in Perspective. In: The Emergence of Illiberalism: Understanding a Global Phenomenon, eds. B. Vormann and M. Weinman, Routledge, 124–139.; Vormann, B. & M. Weinman (2020). “From a Politics of No Alternative to a Politics of Fear: The Emergence of Illiberalism and its Variants”, in: The Emergence of Illiberalism: Understanding a Global Phenomenon, eds. Boris Vormann and Michael Weinman, Routledge, 3–26. for such analyses). Rather, we focus on the contexts and scenarios in which populists thrive and to which they vow to offer political and economic alternatives.In brief, we see populism as the result of specific political and economic developments that dovetail with dynamics of cultural backlash and white resentment. It produces crisis tendencies of its own once populist leaders take office, but is itself not the root cause of democracy’s ailment in the West. We contend that the recent success of populism across so many different country contexts needs to be viewed as a global phenomenon which has produced specific effects in particular institutional and historical contexts. For this chapter, our main focus lies on these developments in the United States.

Christian Lammert, Boris Vormann

Populism & Gender

Chapter 16. Right-Wing Populism and Gender

In established right-wing populism (RWP) research, gender is an ‘understudied’ category. Although there is a conspicuously high number of leading female figures and the RWP party platforms show a particular ‘obsession with gender,’ only a few related issues draw attention: voting behavior of women and the question of whether these are ‘male parties.’ The article aims to present the still small but growing field of alternative gender-sensitive research on RWP. In addition to studies related to European countries, the new research focuses on intersectional connections of gendered RWP with Neoliberalism, anti-immigration, racism, sexual politics, and affect. It is noteworthy that the RWP polemic against ‘gender ideology’ is not only about re-traditionalizing the family. It is also a tool for meta-politics, alliance building, and boundary drawing. Anti-feminism, homo- and trans-phobia has the epistemic benefit to preserve and enforce a naturalized and hierarchical order by asserting the existence of two (and only two) biologically determined sexes. The populist political understanding of people-as-one leaves no room for the justice demands of individual discriminated groups because they disturb the fantasies of unity. An understanding of people-as-many, however, as represented in intersectional queer Feminism and research, can counter the RWP challenge.

Gabriele Dietze
Chapter 17. ‘The Gendered Politics of Right-Wing Populism and Instersectional Feminist Contestations’

While the field of research in right-wing populism is by now established and rapidly expanding, the function of gender in and for populism has not yet been studied systematically. This contribution focuses on the relationship between the two fields, based on the assumption that a gender focus on populism will enrich the study field, and furthermore provides an innovative parameter for a re-evaluation of the phenomenon and the theorizing on (right-wing) populism. The article carves out five patterns of gendering in recent right-wing populist discourse. Since in many places where a strong right-wing populist trend can be observed, we also see the simultaneous emergence of strong feminist movements. In the essay, gender, anti-sexism, and intersectional feminism are recognized as a means of contestation and resistance to right-wing populist, new-conservative and fundamentalist forces. The article thus pursues a two-fold aim: first, to examine the logic and function of gender for the ‘right-wing populist complex’ in order to re-evaluate the phenomenon and expand the theorizing toward more complex forms of descriptions and analysis, and, secondly, to sketch out spaces and practices of resistance that are also based on gendered politics, or make resistance to anti-sexism their point of departure.

Julia Roth
Chapter 18. Popular Sovereignty and (Non)recognition in Venezuela: On the Coming into Political Being of ‘el Pueblo’

Many political scientists conceptualise populism as paradigmatically encapsulated by the charismatic populist leader. Their political strategy aims, according to this conceptualisation, to construct two antagonistic blocks by claiming to represent ‘the people’ against the members of the elite who belong to the establishment, and consequently, they produce division in society. In such a characterization of ‘the people,’ political scientists frequently forget that populist leaders rally their bases against former divisions: and often with those who were excluded from being political subjects against the confines of political subjecthood and citizenship in previous periods. To theorize the relationship between historic divisions and populism and to engage with the otherwise homogenised people/el pueblo, we examine how supporters of Chávez articulate their social/political struggles as epistemic/ontological struggles. Using this theoretical framework, we raise questions as to the (ab)use of populism studies for engaging with el pueblo as an object instead of as a subject coming into contradictory political being.

Sara C. Motta, Ybiskay Gonzalez Torres

New Populisms and Cleavages

Chapter 19. Environmental Populism

This chapter highlights the emergence, varieties and effects of environmental populism. It first shows that different types of populism have specific discourses of the environmental concerning worldviews, policies, or the role of science. Then explanations put forward to understand environmental populism are discussed, focusing on the materialist, idealist and strategic accounts. We also look at existing evidence concerning the policy effects of populists on environmental and climate policies. The concluding part identifies research gaps and open questions for further research.

Aron Buzogány, Christoph Mohamad-Klotzbach
Chapter 20. Medical Populism

As illustrated by contemporary health crises—most starkly the COVID-19 pandemic—the intersection of populism and health has had a profound impact on lives and livelihoods of people around the world. Drawing on the scholarship that looks at populism as a repertoire of styles and performances, this chapter offers the vocabulary of medical populism to characterize and make sense of how individual political actors respond to health crises, discussing each of its four elements: simplification, spectacularization, division, and invocation of knowledge claims. Although its efficacy in responding to health crises is in doubt, its political efficacy suggests that medical populism is here to stay for the years and decades to come.

Gideon Lasco
Chapter 21. Global Populism

In this chapter, the author explores the expanding academic output on global populism, analyzing the scientific progress achieved by International Relations scholars according to three different categories: sources, patterns, and effects. While the first section is devoted to explanations for the emergence of populism on the international scene, the other two sections consist of a literature-survey on the behavioral patterns of populist foreign policy and the potential impact of the populist phenomenon on the international system. The concluding remarks suggest topics and methodologies that may improve the study of global populism in the future. The author draws critical lessons for emerging academic engagement with the transnational dimensions of contemporary populism, as well as relevant policy implications for international cooperation, regional integration, and global governance.

Daniel F. Wajner
Chapter 22. Populism and the Cosmopolitan–Communitarian Divide

The strong electoral appeal of right-wing populism is attributed by some authors to a supposed new cleavage in party systems which distinguishes between cosmopolitan and communitarian attitudes. At closer inspection, however, the new model is only a reformulation of the existing economic and cultural cleavages which remains conceptually vague and adds nothing to the established theories. If we want to understand party system change, it is necessary firstly to look at the respective relevance of the economic and cultural conflicts and their mutual relations. And secondly, political factors like opportunity structures and party strategies must be taken into account.

Frank Decker
Chapter 23. Populism and the Recasting of the Ideological Landscape of Liberal Democracies

The upsurge in anti-establishment protests in Western liberal democracies in the early twenty-first century—a phenomenon typically labeled as ‘populism’—has profoundly altered the ideological landscape of these societies. The grievances against social, economic, political, and cultural precarization which these movements have formulated are an expression of social anxiety, itself generated by the intensified competitive pressures of globally integrated capitalism. As a result, the standard Left–Right ideological divide is being replaced by a new cleavage—a Risk–Opportunity divide shaped by conflicting attitudes toward the perceived and anticipated social effect of neoliberal globalization.

Albena Azmanova

Populism Discourses

Chapter 24. Meaning Matters: The Political Language of Islamic Populism

Populism can be understood as a reaction to the adverse effects of neoliberal globalization: growing social inequality and social dislocations that have caused a common sense of alienation among many. The way the reaction is expressed, however, come in fragmented and distinctive ways. Here, we look specifically at the political language of Islamic populism to understand how otherwise diverse sets of social interests can be bound together by forging a particular kind of religiously derived political lexicon. We combine a global and cross-regionally oriented political economy approach to populism with cultural political economy, and show how this political language is shaped, mediated, and mobilized through various media technologies and markets in conjunction with concrete struggles over power and tangible resources. Our focus is on Islamic populism in Indonesia, which we treat in comparative perspective. On the surface, the deployment of religious symbols in electoral competition and public discourses there could be seen as an indicator of ideological contestations within a thriving democracy. However, we suggest that these are mainly being absorbed into the workings of Indonesian capitalism in the interest of already dominant social alliances. In this way, the political language of Islamic populism has posed less of a challenge to established elites than bolstered them. This is made possible by Islamic populism’s ability to mobilize an apparently unified, but actually fragmented, ummah (community of believers) in times of intensified conflict.

Inaya Rakhmani, Vedi Hadiz
Chapter 25. Populism, Anti-populism and Post-truth

The debate around ‘post-truth’ dominated the public space following the Brexit referendum and Donald Trump’s electoral victory. Since then, one continuously encounters references that connect ‘post-truth’ and/or ‘fake news’ with populism and present both phenomena as mutually reinforcing pathologies of a supposed political normality. Mainstream politicians and prominent members of the media and the academic establishment seem to claim an epistemic superiority providing access to the only truth. In Greece, the dominant anti-populist discourse proceeded quickly to employ this polemical notion of ‘post-truth’. This paper aims to examine how post-truth politics were conceptualized in Greece, how they became part of political antagonism and how the rubric of post-truth was incorporated into the dominant populism/anti-populism cleavage that marks Greek politics. Through this examination of Greek politics, we attempt to highlight the political claims related to the polemical uses of the concept of ‘post-truth’ in political discourses more generally, namely the implications that can be produced by the interconnection between populism and post-truth. Given the many global uses of ‘post-truth’, this analysis could arguably have broader repercussions for populism research globally. Finally, the paper deals with the status of truth itself in politics.

Antonis Galanopoulos, Yannis Stavrakakis
Chapter 26. Experience Narratives and Populist Rhetoric in U.S. House Primaries

Given the openness of U.S. nominations, it may be easier for outsiders with no prior experience to use populist rhetoric to become a major party nominee than under systems with stronger party gatekeeping. As trust in Congress has decreased, experience narratives—where candidates advocate that they are best positioned to represent the party due to prior experience or reasons of competence—have declined in congressional primaries. Prior experience in office has historically been a strong predictor of success in elections, but its value has lessened in the past decade. At the same time, the use of populist rhetoric—positioned here as the preferable definition of populism—has risen in primary campaigns. I find that prior elected legislative experience became less frequent among major party candidates using an original dataset of U.S. House of Representatives primaries between 2006 and 2018. This chapter considers competing definitions of populism, before examining the specificities of populist rhetoric in the U.S., I demonstrate that as populist rhetoric has become more prevalent, where a decline in nomination contests focused on prior experience has coincided with a reduction in ‘quality’ among non-incumbent candidates.

Mike Cowburn
Chapter 27. The Framing of Right-Wing Populism: Intricacies of ‘Populist’ Narratives, Emotions, and Resonance

In order to embrace the complexities and ambivalences that constitute the global and multifaceted phenomenon of populism, this contribution proposes a), a shift of scholarly attention to the particularities of framing political issues in populist practice, and b), the facilitation of micropolitical approaches in researching these framing practices and their responses. Using the Alternative for Germany’s framing of the “returning wolves” debate in Eastern Germany as an example, this contribution offers a situated approach to understanding right-wing populism, and provides insights into framing techniques that serve to cause affective resonance with people who, supposedly, feel left behind.

Julia Leser, Rebecca Pates
Chapter 28. Populism and Collective Memory

Populism is a widespread political phenomenon present in countries across the globe. To explain the success of populist actors and discourses, I claim it is essential to consider the long-term impact of authoritarian legacies on national political culture, individual attitudes, and electoral behavior. In the first section, I discuss the importance of collective memories in molding identities and structures of power. I then present the relevant literature on democratization and authoritarian legacies, explaining how to integrate these strands of literature with the study of populism. In the following section, I examine cases from Europe and Latin America that are suitable to study the populist present through the lenses of collective memories of authoritarian regimes. In the conclusions, I discuss possible directions for future research and suggest that other types of memories, including collective memories about colonialism and civil wars, can have a relevant impact on populism.

Luca Manucci

Populists in Office

Chapter 29. Populism in Southeast Asia

This chapter outlines the experience of populism in democratic Southeast Asia. It outlines an understanding of populism as a political strategy in which leaders seek to directly mobilize the people through mass communication. This approach is especially useful in explaining the trajectory of populism in a region where political parties have been historically weak. The chapter briefly summarizes this historical experience, with a special focus on The Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand, the states with the most extended democratic records in the region. The chapter concludes with some suggestions on how this approach to conceptualizing populism may also facilitate theorizing about populism’s causes in the region.

Paul D. Kenny
Chapter 30. Populism in Africa and the Anti-Corruption Trope in Nigeria’s Politics

The author of this paper focuses on the anti-corruption trope as a populist factor in Nigeria’s politics in the prevailing fourth republic. It is the context of the historicity of populism in Africa’s politics and the recent world-wide rise in populism. In the paper the author argues as follows: One, that populism has electoral value in societies with a disarticulated economy and massive social disempowerment because it provides a basis for competing claims of freedom from the social conditions that plague them. And two, in the developing world, anti-corruption as a streak of populism converges with aspects of neoliberal economic policies, such as openness, transparency, and the rule of law embedded in the Monterrey Consensus. Therefore, attracts overt sympathy to the populist regime from agencies of global governance. The paper concludes that populism in the main is hollowed and serves no transformation goal other than legitimizing military coups and as an enhancer of electoral value in the prevailing context in Nigeria. More importantly, populism harbors the potential for inflaming identity crisis in a multinational society like Nigeria.

Sylvester Odion Akhaine
Chapter 31. Populism in Southern Africa Under Liberation Movements as Governments: The Cases of Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe

Liberation movements in Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa share a common trajectory: engaged in long also armed resistance to settler-colonial and white minority role, they finally seized legitimate political power in their countries. As parties they have remained in government since then. The heroic narrative and patriotic history have—despite different nuances—constituted core messages to the official discourses established since then. Jointly with the “big men syndrome” of struggle veterans entitled to rule, these have been part of populist justifications to remain in political control over the independent countries. This chapter presents an overview of the governance of the former liberation movements ZANU-PF, SWAPO and ANC. It also points to the role of individual leaders of the struggle generations such as Robert Mugabe, Sam Nujoma and Jacob Zuma as personified populist claims to individual rule.

Henning Melber
Chapter 32. Venezuela: The Institutionalization of Authoritarian Populism

Populism is mostly seen as inimical to institutions, even more so in cases like Venezuela, where populism is intertwined with authoritarianism. This is why research on populist regimes rarely extends to institutional aspects of legitimacy and regime durability. We address this blind spot and show that durable populist regimes have an institutional side, too, even in a context of extreme personalism and severe repression. We lay out how crucial features of populism like the personal myth of the populist leader are reproduced and institutionalized from above on the level of symbols, discourse and mass beliefs. Accordingly, we contend that the institutional side of a populist regime is to be found mainly on the ideational level. Authoritarianism needs not to be a hindrance in this regard, to the contrary: Manipulation and control of public discourse eventually help strengthening and reproducing the regime’s ‘third face of power’ through symbolic and narrative structures. This becomes evident considering the Venezuelan case. After the election of Hugo Chávez to the presidency in 1998, the country entered a period of populism with increasingly authoritarian traits. Until his death in 2013, Chávez used his charismatic appeal to build a personal myth that outlasted his presidency. This myth and the ideational legacies left by him became further entrenched by his successor, Nicolás Maduro, in such a way that Venezuela can be regarded as an institutionalized authoritarian-populist regime.

Thomas Kestler, Miguel Latouche
Chapter 33. Populist Neo-Imperialism: A New Take on Populist Foreign Policy

In this article, we add to the theoretical understanding of populist foreign policy by proposing the model of populist neo-imperialism. Built on an in-depth study of contemporary Turkey, the model postulates that populist right-wing parties in countries with an imperial past pursue a foreign policy with specific shared features. In immigration, trade and regional integration, the policy of populist neo-imperialism defies empirical typologies derived from European right-wing populists. Three empirical case studies (Russia, United Kingdom, France) based on secondary material confirm the model’s transferability while highlighting necessary conditions for populist neo-imperialism to be chosen: economic strength, political dominance and prior elites’ neglect of the imperial past. Moreover, the cases show that populist neo-imperialists are willing to stomach losses to their popularity to establish and maintain their foreign policy, indicating the “thick” ideological motivations that drive them.

Ole Frahm, Dirk Lehmkuhl

Strategic Populism & Societal Support

Chapter 34. Populism as an Implementation of National Biopolitics: The Case of Poland

In this paper, the author starts with diagnosing the state of research on populism and biopolitics simultaneously. The author states that most often in the literature the topic of populism (Laclau, Mouffe, Mudde, Panizza) is considered separately from the problems related to biopolitics (Foucault, Negri, Agamben, Esposito). The author would like to change this separation by bringing these two discourses closer together. The author’s main aim is to rethink populism from a biopolitical perspective, i.e., to implement national politics over the population. Furthermore, the author reconstructs the logic of such biopolitical populism with the example of Poland, and as a consequence, the program of the ‘Law and Justice Party’ (PiS), which, after coming to power in 2015, introduced a new policy of ‘legal populism’, closely related to the conservative ‘procreative policy” (prohibition of abortion), and the family-oriented economy (financial supplement for each family for the second child, the so-called ‘500 plus’ program).

Szymon Wróbel
Chapter 35. Understanding the Support of Right-Wing Populist Positions Within Unsuspected Groups: The Case of Professional Social Workers in Italy

The support of right-wing populist parties has become the subject of extensive research addressing the questions of why and by whom right-wing populist positions are supported. So far, studies only partially considered micro-processes concerning experiences, feelings, and trajectories that lead to support for right-wing populist positions. Such a perspective is, however, particularly interesting in order to better explore and understand the infiltration processes of right-wing populism within groups not immediately identified as potential supporters by dominant approaches. This chapter is based on a qualitative study on Italian social workers openly supporting right wing populist positions. Social work debates have so far addressed the issue of right-wing populism almost exclusively in terms of an external threat to social works’ identity assuming that social workers are above any suspicion and do not support right-wing populist positions because of their professional values. However, the findings give insights in experiences and feelings that serve as entry points and lead to right-wing populist support even within groups traditionally opposed to or at least not considered at risk of easy conquest by right-wing populism. The contribution of the chapter is twofold. Firstly, the findings show the importance of a new welfare agenda as a crucial arena in which to contrast the spread of right-wing populism. Secondly, the chapter suggests paying more attention to the need of better understanding the qualitative momentum and the various trajectories that might increase support for right-wing populism within unsuspected groups.

Luca Fazzi, Urban Nothdurfter
Chapter 36. Clarifying Our Populist Moment(s): Right-Wing and Left-Wing Populism in the 2016 Presidential Election

Observing the rise of former President Trump, scholars have suggested that the United States is experiencing a populist moment. We suggest not only that right-wing populism has transformed Republican politics, but that mass populism has redefined the terms of partisan conflict in the United States. Right-wing populism, typified by support for hawkish immigration policies, has taken hold among Republican identifiers. Left-wing populism, involving concerns about structural economic inequality, is ubiquitous among Democratic identifiers. Using an original survey index piloted on the 2017 Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES), we document the prevalence and distribution of both forms of populism. Further, we show that while right-wing populism increased the likelihood that Republicans (and independents) voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, left-wing populism did not push Democrats toward Hillary Clinton. This was the case even though Democrats’ support for left-wing populism was somewhat more concentrated than Republicans’ support for right-wing populism. We attribute these asymmetric effects to the major party choices in 2016. By nominating Hillary Clinton rather than Bernie Sanders, the Democratic Party likely failed to recognize the magnitude of support for left-wing populism among the Democratic rank and file.

Edward G. Carmines, Eric R. Schmidt, Matthew R. Fowler

Consequences of Populism & Anti-Populist Discourse

Chapter 37. New Parties, Populism, and Parliamentary Polarization: Evidence from Plenary Debates in the German Bundestag

When new parties enter parliament, they pose challenges to the established actors. Not only do they represent ideological niches. They also present themselves as alternatives to the establishment, antagonize the mainstream parties, and are oftentimes genuine populists. However, little is known about how populism shapes the political discourse within legislative bodies. How does populism characterize the behavior of new parties, and how do other parties respond to the arrival of their contesters? This chapter sheds light on this issue by examining how the parliamentary discourse in Germany changed after two non-populist (Greens, PDS) and two populist parties (The Left, AfD) entered parliament. Employing a quantitative text analysis with Wordfish, the results of this inquiry show that, first, new parties often make use of populist language. Second, the arrival of new contesters does not necessarily increase polarization on their core issues. Third, the advent of genuine populists in parliament does not necessarily result in the other parties mimicking their approach. Whereas the former take a unique position with regard to their populist framings, the established parties distance themselves from them. In this respect, the result of populist representation in parliament is mutual disassociation rather than convergence.

Marcel Lewandowsky, Julia Schwanholz, Christoph Leonhardt, Andreas Blätte
Chapter 38. The Enemy in My House: How Right-Wing Populism Radicalized the Debate About Citizenship in France

When Emmanuel Macron won the French presidential election against the right-wing populist Marine Le Pen in 2017, relief swept European liberals. Yet, how was it possible for a candidate like Le Pen to come this far? This paper aims at analyzing the shifts in France’s political discourse about “Frenchness” that made such a candidature possible. Our hypothesis is that narratives that originated within the right-wing populist Front national/Rassemblement national, were adopted by more moderate politicians and became the new “normal”. This effect was facilitated by waves of securitizations of migration and terrorism, which further shifted the discourse to more nationalist positions. To uncover those shifts, we analyzed the discourse on the 2010 and 2015/2016 debate about new legislation that would allow the strip French nationals of their citizenship. We included parliamentary debates as well as official statements from all parties represented in the Assemblée nationale and media coverage by Le Figaro and Le Monde. Our analysis shows, how even in countries that are not (yet) governed by populist leaders, these shifts create dangerous ideational spaces for right-wing populists. While the empirical focus of this paper lies on France, we argue that our findings can be generalized to a certain degree and shed light on the facilitating condition for the raise of populism.

Elena Dück, Sebastian Glassner
Chapter 39. Can Right-Wing Populist Parties Solve the “Democratic Dilemma”?

For democracies it is a serious problem that a large part of society does not vote and that this large part is made up primarily of socially disadvantaged people. By concentrating on this group of the population with their election programs and their rhetoric, right-wing populist parties were able to achieve considerable electoral successes. It could be argued that right-wing populist parties are an important democratic corrective because they give the socially disadvantaged a voice again and encourage them to vote. Surprisingly, it has not yet been systematically researched whether the election success of right-wing populist parties has a positive influence on voter turnout. In order to fill this research gap, a dataset was created which depicts the national parliamentary elections in 20 Western and 11 Eastern European countries in the period from 1960 to 2018. A number of analyses have shown that right-wing populist parties have no clear influence on voter turnout. The phrase that right-wing populist parties represent some kind of important democratic corrective cannot be confirmed on the basis of the data in this study.

Martin Althoff
Chapter 40. Searching for the Philosopher’s Stone: Counterstrategies Against Populism

The issue of counterstrategies to populism is tricky, and the philosopher´s stone has not been found yet. A systematic approach towards a differentiation between actor-related and supporter-related counterstrategies can reveal lessons learnt in a global context. To that end, we define populism as a strategy along three dimensions: technique-related, content-related and media-related. By following these dimensions, we display counterstrategies claimed and used by established parties to combat left- and right-wing populism. Considering the evaluation of the different approaches, we propose a more fundamental approach to fight populism in the twenty-first century.

Mario Schäfer, Florian Hartleb
The Palgrave Handbook of Populism
Michael Oswald
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