Examining the populist form of representation : The case of Podemos

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Statsvetenskapliga institutionen

Author: Tom Berry; [2019]

Keywords: ;

Abstract: This thesis examines the Spanish left-wing party Podemos and their populist way of expressing politics. There is a vast empirical literature which tries to capture the different elements of populist parties. This thesis seeks to go beyond this, through examining populism as a form of representation. Since scholars have claimed that mainstream parties are facing a crisis of representation, it is of great relevance to understand which sort of representation that populist parties offer in turn. Podemos has in previous research been considered as a new form of left-wing party, primarily because they actively have stepped away from using a traditional left-wing terminology. Instead, Podemos has been recognized for their populist way of expressing politics, through dividing the Spanish society into “the people” and “the elite”. However, this division of the Spanish society has not been interpreted and examined in terms of representation. To examine what I have labeled the populist form of representation, the thesis investigates the political style of Podemos secretary general, Pablo Iglesias, and his way of creating the subject which populist parties claims to represent – “the people”.   The result of the study shows that Podemos has a populist form of representation. The secretary general of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, adopts a populist style and he constructs a populist “people” through claiming to represent several groups and demands in society. Further, the thesis has shown that Iglesias style as well is dependent on several contextual elements, such as technocratic, cultural and left-wing features of performance. Moreover, even though the construction of “the people” is consisting of the claim to represent several demands, they are all tied to a general defense of the Spanish welfare state. The thesis has further shown that Iglesias creation of “the people” consists of characterizing it as the ordinary people, the colorful people, the historical people and the governing people.

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