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ECPR Futures Lab 2020

Populism – A New –ism and a New Schism in the Study of the Far Right?

Michael Minkenberg
Europa-Universität Viadrina
Michael Minkenberg
Europa-Universität Viadrina
Malisa Zora Zobel
Europa-Universität Viadrina

Everywhere it can be heard that ‘right-wing populism is on the rise’. From editorials in European and American Newspapers to the Academy; the term right-wing populism is ubiquitous. But is right-wing populism really something new? Is right-wing populism fundamentally different from other -isms such as right-wing extremism or right-wing radicalism? The paper critically discusses the concept of right-wing populism by studying what analytical value it adds to the study of the far right. We argue that right-wing populism, as it is widely used in research, the media and politics, is not suited to replace the older established concepts which focus on the ideological core of the far right, like right-wing radicalism. This does not mean abandoning the term altogether; rather using it as an attribute instead of a substantive in its own right. Used like this it helps to sharpen the view of important elements and problems of democracy that have been neglected so far.
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