The politics of style: political performance caught between populism, elitism, and pluralism

Carola (Catharina Elisabeth) Schoor

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisInternal

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The thesis presents a new analysis model for populism and, more generally, political style. It dissects political performances as a mix of populism, elitism and pluralism. This approach has a major advantage over previous populism models: scientists never really agreed on what was and was not populist. Because of the relationship with the underlying language structure, this is now much clearer. The model brings together different populist approaches, because all approaches contain parts of the underlying language structure. The model also helps to map and interpret political performances in detail. The computer-guided tool has been used to analyse three political contexts: the US, the UK, and the Netherlands. This shows that populism is not an established political trait. For instance, Boris Johnson was more populist during the Brexit referendum than before and after. Donald Trump also changed his style: as a president, he increasingly mixed his populism with elitism. In the Netherlands 3 populists were compared; Geert Wilders, Thierry Baudet and Emile Roemer. All three fall within the populist spectrum, although Baudet's populism has elitist traits, and Roemer's populism has elements of pluralism.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Maastricht University
  • Koenis, Jacques, Supervisor
  • de Roder, Jan, Co-Supervisor
Award date24 Aug 2020
Place of PublicationMaastricht
Print ISBNs9789463808651
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • populism
  • political language
  • Trump
  • Brexit
  • elitism
  • pluralism

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