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The Global Rise of PopulismPerformance, Political Style, and Representation$
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Benjamin Moffitt

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780804796132

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804796132.001.0001

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The Performer: Populism and the Leader

The Performer: Populism and the Leader

(p.51) 4 The Performer: Populism and the Leader
The Global Rise of Populism

Benjamin Moffitt

Stanford University Press

This chapter addresses the specific role of the populist leader as the key ‘performer’ of contemporary populism. It considers the centrality of leaders within populism, arguing that they should be focused upon above and beyond parties and movements when studying the phenomenon. It then examines how these leaders must negotiate between appearing as both of ‘the people’ as well as above ‘the people’ at the same time, balancing performances of ordinariness with extraordinariness. In terms of ordinariness, it looks at populist leaders’ ‘bad manners’ and efforts to distance themselves from ‘mainstream’ political leaders, focusing on how they flaunt expectations of how politicians are ‘supposed’ to act. In terms of extraordinariness, it shows how populist leaders present themselves as the embodiment of ‘the people’, often through performances of strength, health and virility, and how this links with classic notions of the body politic.

Keywords:   populism, leadership, bad manners, representation, charisma, embodied power, machismo, performance, the body politic

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