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in politics, a movement or political strategy that purports to endorse the will of the common or ordinary people, especially when distinguished from and opposed to a corrupt political or economic elite. Often sparked by social and economic disruption, populism typically involves a call by a charismatic leader for the people to assert their will and sovereignty and restore themselves to their rightful place in society, and the prevailing political and economic power structure is typically criticized for having displaced, neglected, or obstructed the people. Populist leaders tend to promote themselves as political outsiders, generally rejecting pluralism and basing their legitimacy on the shared values and strength of the group from which they derive their support. Populist movements and leaders, which can be on the left or right politically, often function as warning signs of a political crisis and force the established political order to respond issues they might otherwise ignore. In the United States, President Andrew JacksonJackson, Andrew,
1767–1845, 7th President of the United States (1829–37), b. Waxhaw settlement on the border of South Carolina and North Carolina (both states claim him). Early Career

A child of the backwoods, he was left an orphan at 14.
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 is usually recognized as an early populist leader, but widespread use of the term "populism" dates to the 1890s and the formation of the Populist partyPopulist party,
in U.S. history, political party formed primarily to express the agrarian protest of the late 19th cent. In some states the party was known as the People's party.
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, an alliance of agrarian interests against urban bankers and industrialists.


See B. Moffitt, The Global Rise of Populism (2016); J-W Müer, What Is Populism? (2016); C. Mudde and C. R. Kaltwasser, Populism: A Very Short Introduction (2017).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/


political movements or political parties which reflect a major disillusionment with conventional political parties and which have, or present themselves as having, the objective of returning political POWER to the mass of the people, e.g. the Narodniks in Russia in the late 19th-century, and the People's Party in the US in the same era. Populist movements have often been anti-urban, anti-industrial movements, and often also anti-big business. Sometimes they have been associated with CONSPIRACY THEORIES. In the 20th-century, the term has been applied to many political parties and to tendencies within political parties, which may be either left-wing or right-wing, e.g. the Peronist movement in Argentina, based on the urban working class, or FASCIST movements such as NATIONAL SOCIALISM in Germany

Some political strategies employed by political parties may also be described as ‘populist’, even where the party as a whole would not usually be referred to as populist, e.g. in Britain, aspects of the strategy of the modern Conservative Party under THATCHERISM.

Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000


a political strategy based on a calculated appeal to the interests or prejudices of ordinary people
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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What fuels populist politics is that concept of the people battling the elite.
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All this time, the prime minister-in-waiting, Imran Khan remained popular but not a populist leader.
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