Greece in Crisis: Austerity, Populism and the Politics of Blame

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Series Details Vol.52, No.2, March 2014, p388-402
Publication Date March 2014
ISSN 0021-9886
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Within the broader debate on the Greek crisis, the theory of ‘populist democracy’ postulates that populism is fundamental to the sustenance of the Greek political system and is at the heart of Greece's endemic domestic weaknesses. This article tests this assumption empirically through the use of a sophisticated framing analysis of speeches delivered by the leaders of the five parties in the Greek parliament in the period 2009–11. The findings confirm that populism: (a) is expressed through the narratives of political actors; (b) is observed across the party system; (c) is expressed in the forms of blame-shifting and exclusivity; and (d) differs depending on position in the party system. The article contributes to the debate by testing and building on the theory of democratic populism, providing a novel way of measuring and operationalizing populism and identifying a new typology that distinguishes between mainstream and fringe populism.

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