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date: 30 June 2022

p. 11. What is populism?locked

p. 11. What is populism?locked

  • Cas Mudde
  •  and Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser


“What is populism?” explains the ideational approach taken by this VSI. Populism is positioned within the context of liberal democracy. It is a label seldom claimed by people or organizations themselves. Instead, it is ascribed to others, most often with a negative connotation. Populism is defined as a thin-centered ideology that considers society to be ultimately separated into two homogeneous and antagonistic camps, “the pure people” versus “the corrupt elite,” and which argues that politics should be an expression of the volonté générale (general will) of the people. The three core concepts—the people, the elite, and the general will—are then explained in more detail.

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