Challenging the Liberal Establishment and Consolidating the Authoritarian Regime: Comparing Populism(s) in Contemporary Western Europe and Russia

Çelov, İgor
The concept of populism has become particularly salient in the academic debates of recent years. Yet, there are few cross-regional studies of the populist phenomena. Comparisons of populism across qualitatively different polities are even fewer. The main reason behind this gap can be attributed to the fact that there is as much dispute about defining populism as there is about studying it, both of which contribute to the theoretical dissonance of populism studies. In this thesis, I attempt to bridge the gap between the three recent approaches to the study of populism – the Ideational Approach (Cas Mudde), the Discursive Approach (Ernesto Laclau), and the Political-Strategic Approach (Kurt Weyland) – by suggesting a conceptual categorisation of content, form, and function respectively. I argue that this analytical distinction allows one to employ these three recent approaches to the study of populism in a complementary manner, by virtue of which, a cross-regional comparison of populism becomes more viable. I employ this categorisation to illuminate the similarities and differences between the 21st century populist experience in France (Front National), the Netherlands (Partij voor de Vrijheid), and Russia (Vladimir Putin’s presidencies). I arrive at the conclusion that while Marine Le Pen’s and Geert Wilders’ populism is peculiarly different from Putin’s populism in terms of content, form, and function, the remarkable similarity between these cases lies in their tendency to de-politicise and de-institutionalise the political participation of citizens. Moreover, their populism enables the far right ideology to traverse borders and to attain cross-regional solidarity.


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Citation Formats
İ. Çelov, “Challenging the Liberal Establishment and Consolidating the Authoritarian Regime: Comparing Populism(s) in Contemporary Western Europe and Russia,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2022.