Do We Need a Minimum Definition of Populism? An Appraisal of Mudde’s Conceptualization

In: Populism
Carlos de la Torre Department of Sociology, University of Kentucky 1533 Patterson Office Tower, US-Lexington, KY 40506

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Oscar Mazzoleni Institute of Political, Historical and International Studies, University of Lausanne Géopolis-Quartier Mouline, CH-1015 Lausanne

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This contribution discusses the advantages and disadvantages of Cas Mudde’s minimalist definition to study populism. It argues that his proposal might facilitate consensus among scholars, yet his conceptualization is an obstacle to grasp the complexity of populism in its diverse manifestations over space and time. Moreover, some underlying normative assumptions limit the reach of his concept to small rightwing populist European parties at the fringes of the political system. The article argues for the necessity to recognize pluralism and hybridism avoiding any reductionism in populism scholarship. Populism cannot be reduced to one of its components, like a moralist ideology. Populism is also a strategy, a political style, and a discursive frame.

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