Cas Mudde and Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser

in The Oxford Handbook of Political Ideologies

Published in print August 2013 | ISBN: 9780199585977
Published online December 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191749759 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Politics & International Relations


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In consonance with much of the existing scholarship, this chapter develops an ideational approach to the study of populism. Furthermore, it proposes a minimal concept of populism that can be used to analyse populist forces across time and space. According to this minimal concept, populism is defined as a thin-centred ideology, which is based not only on the Manichean distinction between ‘the pure people’ and ‘the corrupt elite’, but also on the defence of popular sovereignty at any cost. The chapter also examines the most common subtypes of populism and sheds light on current examples of populism in North and South America as well as in Eastern and Western Europe. Lastly, the article discusses the complex relationship that populism maintains with democracy, nationalism, and gender.

Keywords: populism; thin-centred ideology; popular sovereignty; United States; Latin America; Western Europe; Eastern Europe; democracy; nationalism; gender

Article.  9497 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory ; Comparative Politics

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