Introduction: Populism, Democracy, and the Logic of Passion

Paolo Cossarini, Fernando Vallespín

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


Critics of populism highlight its intrinsically demagogic practices, which involve fuelling an atmosphere of enmity and distrust towards political representatives, making popular and unrealistic promises to the citizenry, and so forth. Despite the amount of the literature, populism’s vagueness seems to be efficiently resilient. Populism has been conceptualized as a particular form of political organization, as a thin-centred ideology, as a political style, and as discourse. Politics, in all its forms, is about emotions, and various political parties, ideologies, and movements mobilize a variety of emotions, while impregnating their discourse with given affective signifiers. Emotions – and similar concepts such as passions, affect, sentiments, feelings, – seem to have become central for the understanding of socio-political phenomena and community life. Both left- and right-wing populism are representative of the increasing breach between the practiced form of liberal representative democracy and the ideal of democracy. The chapter also presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in this book.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPopulism and passions: democratic legitimacy after austerity.
Number of pages12
Publication date2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Populism
  • Emotion
  • Democracy


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