‚Nur‘ Wahlkämpfer oder doch Populisten?

Eine linguistische Analyse des populistischen Diskurses französischer Präsidentschaftskandidaten

  • Thea Göhring Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn


Recently, populist movements are gaining more and more ground in western democracies. As a result, the term populism is applied more widely thus losing its conceptual sharpness. This article therefore aims to identify characteristic features of populist discourse, as opposed to political discourse in general and election campaign communication in particular. This goal is pursued using a dual approach. Firstly, a conceptual discussion shall illustrate the current problems in defining populism. Secondly, the examination of the 2017 French presidential election campaign will provide empirical evidence for typical features of populist discourse. Within the theoretical framework of discourse analysis, a linguistic analysis of the TV show 15 minutes pour convaincre will reveal the main characteristics of populist discourse used by the top candidates Fillon, Hamon, Le Pen, Macron and Mélenchon. Based on these results, different forms of populism will be distinguished. Their common core leads to a multi-faceted definition of populism combining form and content (as follows): Populism is a phenomenon which is based on the appeal to the ‚people‘ and anti-elitism as well as on an antagonistic logic, highly contrasting with the agonal character of political discourse.

Language and Linguistics: Results