Populism in Eastern Europe: Beyond Left and Right

Wednesday, July 12, 2017
WMP Yudowitz Seminar Room 1 (University of Glasgow)
Lenka Bustikova , School of Politics and Global Studies, Arizona State University
The politics of exclusion and contestation is closely linked to populism, which is often defined as the rule of the “pure many” mobilized against the “corrupt few”. It is an ideology that pitches the people against the elite and calls for a greater congruence between the general will of the people and politics. Some have studied it as a thin, yet, coherent ideology, a rhetoric, an ethos, an “empty signifier”, while others see it as a social movement and an expression of contentious politics. Populism transcends left and right divisions in politics. In a well know comparative study of (Western) Europe and Latin America, Mudde and Kaltwasser differentiate between exclusionary and inclusionary populism stating that Latin American populism is more class based, left leaning and appealing to broad segments of economically marginalized voters. This paper investigates core features Eastern European populism that has roots in social protection, yet is often classified as right-wing based on its identity appeals. Therefore a theory of Eastern European populism needs to go beyond the simplistic positioning of parties on a left-right dimension and has to be compared with “populisms” in other democracies.