POLI 212 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Charismatic Authority, Fiscal Union, Dealignment
Course CodePOLI 212
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Topic 8: Populism in Europe
What populism is? - Brainstorming
Anti-elites → against élites
Homogenous group disadvantaged by others, by elites
Governance by the people
Reach median voter
Opposition to the status quo
Rhetorical appeal to ordinary folks
General will - Rousseau
What is populism?
- Example of Marine Le Pen and Donald Trump, the rise of populism
- Also exists on the left
Definition still not agreed, but generally centers around three themes:
- The people - A “homeland” or “heartland”? “Common people”? “Natives” of the country?
- An empty signifier that means everything and nothing?
- Give legitimacy to government and aim to bring “the government” back
to “the people” → get their source authority from, power to govern
- Idea that government is out of control and we have to bring it back to the
- Person who listens just inserts what they want to hear
- The elite - Corrupt and in cahoots with each other, promoting “special interests” above
the people’s will
- In conflict with the people, who are pure and authentic
- Political elite? Socioeconomic elite? Cultural elite? Media elite?
- Definition suddenly becomes malleable once populists become part of the
- General will
- Moral, democratising element, empowers groups who do not feel represented
- Appeal to “common sense”
- Break “taboos” imposed upon them by the politically-correct “elite”
- Implies that the general will is absolute - can legitimate authoritarian
- Can appear across political spectrum (“left-wing populism” and “right-wing
- Can appear in degrees (“radical populism”)
- Can appear in any country
- Can populism have any benefits?
Some causes of populism
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