POPULISM LÀ GÌ

Populism is on the rise - especially among Europe's right, and in the US, where it helped crown Mr Trump.

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Italy's populist Five Star Movement and anti-immigrant League parties have emerged as two major players in the latest elections - the most recent of several such results in Europe.


In political science, populism is the idea that society is separated into two groups at odds with one another - "the pure people" and "the corrupt elite", according to Cas Mudde, author of Populism: A Very Short Introduction.


The term is often used as a kind of shorthand political insult. Britain's Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has been accused of populism over his party's slogan "for the many, not the few" - but that's not quite the same thing.


The word "is generally misused, especially in a European context," according to Benjamin Moffitt, author of The Global Rise of Populism.


The true populist leader claims to represent the unified "will of the people". He stands in opposition to an enemy, often embodied by the current system - aiming to "drain the swamp" or tackle the "liberal elite".


"It generally attaches itself to the right in a European context… but that's not an iron rule," Dr Moffitt said.


Populist parties can be anywhere on the political spectrum. In Latin America, there was Venezuela's late President Chávez. In Spain, there is the Podemos party, and in Greece the label has also been applied to Syriza. All these are on the left.


But "most successful populists today are on the right, particularly the radical right," Prof Mudde said.

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Politicians "like Marine Le Pen in France, Viktor Orbán in Hungary, and Donald Trump in the US, combine populism with nativism and authoritarianism," he added.


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Image source, Getty Images
In Italy, supporters of the populist Five Star movement brandish letters spelling out their government ambitions

Commentators - from Time magazine to the President of the European Commission - have been warning about the rise of right-wing populism for years.


"Political scientists have been catching on to this for the last 25-30 years," Dr Moffitt says - but admits "there's been an acceleration."


Experts point to both societal changes like multiculturalism and globalism, and more concrete crises as behind the rise of populist parties in Europe.


Martin Bull, Director of the European Consortium of Political Research (ECPR), says the emergence of populist parties in Europe could be seen in the early 2000s - but they remained small for several years.


The swell in support seemed to happen "from 2008 - and particularly in 2011, when the banking crisis turned into a sovereign debt crisis", he said.


It was a rare occasion when an elite class - the wealthy bankers - could be identified as more or less directly responsible for a crisis which affected the majority of society.


In his book The Global Rise of Populism, Dr Moffitt argues that there are other traits associated with the typical populist leader.


One is "bad manners", or behaving in a way that's not typical of politicians - a tactic employed by President Trump and the Philippines' President Duterte.