Interview #23: Populism and emotions

Populist actors use an emotional, dramatized and colloquial language, and for this reason their messages are more convincing. Or, at least, that is what many commentators have been arguing for quite some time. In her research, Dominique Wirz* found out that this is actually the case. In this interview she explains that populist messages are very likely to trigger emotions – negative emotions towards the bad people and positive emotions towards the good people. Moreover, since negative emotions are unpleasant, people feel a strong need for immediate solutions and this seems to makes populist appeals especially persuasive.

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Interview #13 with Benjamin Moffitt – Populism “Asian” Style

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Street Art From Japan

There’s people in this country who are sick and tired. Tired of hearing all the rhetoric, tired of Washington failing us while they pat their own backs. Finally someone comes along who says what he feels. That’s why people like him: because say what you want, at least he doesn’t sound like another politician. [1]


In this interview, Benjamin Moffitt describes his approach to populism as a political style, and offers a crucial overview about differences and similarities between Asian and European populism. Benjamin Moffitt is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Government, Uppsala University, and an Associate of the Sydney Democracy Network. He is the author of ‘The Global Rise of Populism: Performance, Political Style, and Representation’ (Stanford University Press, 2016).

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