Modern Populism as a Subject of Political Science

Modern Populism as a Subject of Political Science

Vainshtein G.I.,

Leading Researcher, Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences,

elibrary_id: 284425 |

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2017.04.06

For citation:

Vainshtein G.I. Modern Populism as a Subject of Political Science. – Polis. Political Studies. 2017. No. 4. P. 69-89. (In Russ.).


The article notes that a lack in the political science literature of agreed definition of contemporary populism significantly complicates identification and classification of the political forces that represent this phenomenon. The article examines differences existing in academic researches concerning estimations of the quantitative parameters of European populist parties and their current electoral base. At the same time, the author presents its own calculations of the scale and forms of “populist wave” in Europe, according to which there are today about 90 populist parties in 31 European countries with average level of electoral support of 27% at the general elections in the period from 2013 to the beginning of 2017. As to the explanations of the driving forces of current populist wave, the article notes the absence of sufficient empirical evidence of direct links between the rise of populism and the recent crisis in the European economies. The article underlines that the very economic crisis is viewed by academic community not as the cause of the strengthening of populist tendencies, but only as a catalyst, that intensifies the role of a number of other factors, among which ethno-cultural factor is of particular importance. Special attention is paid to the political scientists’ views on the relationship between today’s populism and democracy. The article argues that political science increasingly considers as a distinctive feature of contemporary populism its hostility not to democracy as such, but rather towards its liberal component. In conclusion, the author describes the populist impact on changes of the European political landscape and argues that these changes require a rethinking of the problem of differentiation the systemic political parties and populist political forces. 

populism; radicalism; erosion of democracy; illiberal democracy; anti-system politics; political transformation; ethno-cultural conflict; European political landscape.


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Content No. 4, 2017

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