The Many Faces of Populism: Current Perspectives: Volume 22

Table of contents

(14 chapters)
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Abstract

This chapter argues that despite the proverbial claim that populism is ill-defined and has too broad a conceptual net, the literature on the subject tends to converge toward four core elements of populism that provides a conceptual and analytical unity. Furthermore, the conceptual core of populism explains why the concept has been able to encompass a wide range of populist manifestations without becoming an empty analytical shell. Also, the conceptual cores have helped provide the empirical basis that has given rise to a diverse and innovative literature that seeks to measure and compare cross-nationally populism.

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In this chapter, I examine the populism of the Northern League and Berlusconi. I attempt to provide an institutional explanation as to why Italy, more so than other Western European democracies, has experienced such diverse forms of populism. Stated in full, the thesis advanced is that the rise and persistence populism in Western European democracies, such as Italy, is an indication of an institutional crisis of representation.

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The chapter analyzes the characteristics of a new political subject, the Five Star Movement, which arose in Italy in 2005 (as local civil lists), was officially constituted in 2009, and became the most voted-for party in the 2013 general election, when the country was hit by a strong surge of populism. This party was founded by the Italian comedian Beppe Grillo and launched via his Internet blog. The chapter will be divided into five parts: a brief introduction about the general context and a description of the Italian political framework and the general crisis of traditional parties, setting the scene from which the discussion will develop. Then, in Section “‘People against the Parties’: The Five Star Movement’s Populist Messages,” I will describe the global characteristics of the Five Star Movement, with an analysis of Grillo’s party communication style, especially its use of social media, its people call (with its enemies), and its mobilization strategies. In Section “Inside the Movement: The Party’s Structural Characteristics,” I will describe the party’s internal organization, in order to underline some controversial elements. In the conclusion I will hazard some hypotheses about the party’s destiny, compared to other populist examples.

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This chapter explores how scholars have conceptualized the relationship between Latin American populism and democracy. It analyzes different approaches to populism such as modernization and dependency theory, and current approaches that focus on discourse analysis and/or political strategies. The chapter focuses on the current wave of radical populism to explore the continuities and differences between “classical” populism of leaders such as Juan Perón, the “neopopulism” of Alberto Fujimori, and the radical populism of Hugo Chávez, Evo Morales, and Rafael Correa.

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This chapter deals with the progressive political mobilisation of peasantry in Poland, its institutionalisation, mainly in inter-war period, and its political appropriation by the Communist regime after 1945, when State socialism needed to ground itself in Polish national history and political traditions. These various mobilisations could be labelled as ‘populist’ because of their peasantist components and ideological trends, but the chapter considers them rather as a political form of representation, which political uses by actors fluctuate according historical contexts. The first part analyses the emergence of peasant movement and the success of peasant political parties in pre-1939 Poland. The second part shows how formers activists of these parties tried to produce themselves as the only historical heirs of the peasant movement, in opposition to the new, Leninist, peasant party of the Communist Poland. In the third and last part, the chapter analyses how the Communist official peasant party, the ZSL, invented new political traditions, mainly by historicising strategies, in the aim to encapsulate the peasant form of representation in its identity.

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Abstract

Iran neither produces the technology nor possesses the financial or the political capabilities that drive globalization. Yet in an interdependent world, with a political posture that is defiant of the hegemonic powers that are to a large extent in the driver seat of the bus of globalization, it has managed to survive. The political resiliency of the Islamic Republic since its inception in 1979 in face of formidable external threats, internal obstacles, and the challenges of a rapidly changing world in which it remains on the periphery, is a vexing question indeed. The regime has used the rhetoric and ideology of populism to remain defiant and shore up its “problematic” legitimacy.

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This chapter discusses differences and similarities between democracy and populism with regards to their definitions, main goals, types of actors, structures, and main constituencies. Special focus is devoted to the functions democracy and populism play in the politics of sovereign countries. As the chapter argues, democracy calls for the implementation of political freedoms, rights, and political inclusiveness. In contrast, the spontaneous actions of populism appeal to popular agendas and often use disfranchised populations to achieve political goals.

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The rebirth of populist agenda echoes at the end of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st century is the birth of populist unrest in democratic and in authoritarian regimes alike – in Europe, the Middle East, America, Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Regardless of many faces and appeals to diverse constituencies, as well as clearly established trends, a current escalation in the rapid and widespread development of populist insurgency is an outcome of two factors. One is the weakness of representative politics and the party system in many states across the globe. The other is the global economic recession or crisis that has led to an increase in economic disparity between social classes and impoverishment of the poorer and middle social strata combined with the establishment of global economic, multinational giants.

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DOI
10.1108/S0895-9935201422
Publication date
2014-09-18
Book series
Research in Political Sociology
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78350-258-5
Book series ISSN
0895-9935