Populism and Passions: “Mad Masses” and “Strategic Masterminds”

Room: 
Room 027a, Law & Politics Building
Time Slot: 
Monday 26th March 14:15 - 15:45
Panel Chair: 
  • Professor Yannis Stavrakakis (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki)
Panel Members: 
  • Dr Emmy Eklundh (King's College London)
  • Miss Donatella Bonansinga (University of Birmingham)
  • Mr Antonis Galanopoulos (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki)
  • Dr Paolo Cossarini (Loughborough University)
  • Awaiting details of this person

With the recent rise of populist parties, a range of stereotypical statements regarding their nature often circulate in the public sphere. Whether coming from friends or critics, it is often supposed that populist parties, and in particular their leaders, try to make emotionally-laden arguments and thus move the debate away from a rational discussion. Populists are therefore regarded as manipulative, inciting emotional responses in the masses who are unable to make decisions based on informed opinions. These assumptions carry several implications: First, that populism is a form of political communication based solely on the emotional and passionate, thus being unable to formulate realistic policy proposals. Second, these assumptions rely on a stark division between emotion and reason, assuming that political actors are either emotional or rational, where populists are often paired with the former, and mainstream politics with the latter. Third, it is assumed that the leadership of a populist party must be realized through a charismatic persona, which can invoke the necessary passionate response from the People. In this panel, we engage with the question of emotions and reason in relation to populism. The panel will question and interrogate some of the most common assumptions regarding populist politics, through (a) a range of reflexive arguments and (b) analyses of relevant empirical cases.