The Rise of Right-wing Populism in Europe and the United States

A Comparative Perspective


  • Right-wing populism across Europe and the United States takes different forms depending on nationally specific factors such as political history, system and culture, but there are similarities. Populism’s central and permanent narrative is the juxtaposition of a (corrupt) »political class,« »elite,« or »establishment,« and »the people,« as whose sole authentic voice the populist party bills itself. „ Right-wing populism adds a second antagonism of »us versus them.« Based on a definition of the people as culturally homogenous, right-wing populists juxtapose its identity and common interests, with are considered to be based on common sense, with the identity and interests of »others,« usually minorities such as migrants, which are supposedly favored by the (corrupt) elites.
  • Right-wing populists are not necessarily extremists, and extremists are not necessarily populists. The latter, however, is very likely, as extremism lends itself to populism. The more ethno-centric the conception of the people, the more xenophobic the positioning against »the other,« and the clearer the desire to overthrow the democratic system of governance, the more likely it is that a right-wing populist party is also extremist. „
  • Right-wing populists also strategically and tactically use negativity in political communication. Supposed »political correctness« and dominant discourses are at the same time the declared enemies of right-wing populists and their greatest friends. They allow the staging of calculated provocations and scandals, and of the breaking of supposed taboos. As this resonates with the needs of the media in terms of market demands and the news cycle, right-wing populist receive a lot of free media.

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