Upper Left Quadrant Details Upper Right Quadrant Details Lower Left Quadrant Details Lower Right Quadrant Details Details



In spite of its sound historical roots, populism has become a catch-all word, applied to many different ideologies, movements, governmental experiences. Once confined to countries undergoing deep social and economic transformations, it is now applied also to define tensions within well-established democratic regimes.
The vertical axis, ideology to government, takes into consideration two aspects of democracy - redemptive and pragmatic - as described by Margaret Canovan (1999), while also underlying the fact that populism is no longer limited to the ideology of opposition movements but has become, in many instances, an instrument of governmental power. The horizontal axis distinguishes the traditional populist environment, based on communitarian and ethnic linkages, from the individualistic mobilization typical of contemporary media-driven and charismatic populism.
In the URQ, populism appeals to people through specific class interests, if not boundaries. Populist identity can be based on a common economic cause, as in the case of late nineteenth-century US agrarian populism, or on shared traditional values, as in the village-based narodnik revolutionary movement in Russia. In most of these cases, populist ideology tends towards a violent, revolutionary upheaval. In the LRQ we move to populism as a cultural phenomenon, where communities are identified by their ethnic and/or territorial dimension (nation, language, race). Here the main populist target consists of alien cultural groups, perceived as a physical or economic threat and calling for outright political mobilization to restore law and order. The LLQ refers to populist governments led by strong leaders, a phenomenon first developed in Latin American countries and now spreading into several newly established democracies, especially in the post-Soviet bloc. The quadrant stresses the individualist aspects of the populist regime: the personal power of the president, with his main mission consisting of protecting citizens’ safety through discretionary decisions. The ULQ shows the rise of media populism, also called telepopulism (Taguieff 2003), which brings together ideology and propaganda through intensive use of all sorts of media. People are, to a large extent, a substitute for - and transformed into - public opinion. Deep-rooted and complex cultural values are replaced by sudden changes in opinion moods concerning over-simplified issues, conveyed through highly emotional - and partisan - TV shows. People thus become a function of popularity, and democracy - government by the people is turned into videocracy (Sartori 1989). [Annarita Criscitiello]