This paper first undertakes a reading of Yannis Stavrakakis’s theory of anti-populism against the background of Ernesto Laclau’s theory of the political and Chantal Mouffe’s critique of “post-politics,” highlighting the paradox that “the political” as a formal category that implies the ontological necessity of antagonistic frontiers can take on “extra-political” ontic expressions according to the post-politics and post-democracy diagnoses of Mouffe and Stavrakakis, respectively. This is followed by an Essex School discourse analysis of populism and anti-populism in the 2017 Dutch, French (presidential), and German elections. The analysis identifies a widespread “thin” anti-populism in the Netherlands that localized the populist threat specifically onto Geert Wilders’s Party for Freedom (PVV), minimal anti-populism in a French campaign characterized by widespread populism across the spectrum of candidates, and a fairly thick anti-populism in the discourse of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in Germany.
Seongcheol Kim is a Research Fellow at the WZB Berlin Social Science Center and a PhD student at the Berlin Graduate School of Social Sciences at the Humboldt University of Berlin. His research interests are situated at the intersections of applied discourse theory, party politics, and populism from a discourse and hegemony analytic perspective.
Populism Research Group is a platform bringing together scholars and students working on populism or topics related to populism. The group aims to engage people in interdisciplinary dialogues across various fields and backgrounds through activities such as seminars, workshops, formal and semi-formal meetings.