Capturing populist elements in mediated discourse
The case of the 2020 Slovak parliamentary elections
Keywords:populism, discourse, Slovakia, elections
The article measures the degree of populist elements present in party leaders’ discourses delivered as a part of their appearances in TV debates during the run up to the 2020 Slovak parliamentary elections. With the use of the ‘holistic grading’ approach, we empirically capture the presence and prominence of populist elements in textual transcripts of speeches delivered by 4 opposition party leaders. We start by defining populism as a discourse which can express a set of unique ideas and then follow up with arguments for the use of party leaders’ communication as the object of analysis. We then proceed to operationalize the exact coding process of the ‘holistic grading’ method which is used in our analysis. The measurement results quantitatively represent the degree of populist elements in the communication delivered during the electoral campaign. We note that the ‘holistic grading’ method was successfully able to capture populist elements in the performances of actors who have been previously labelled populist. We find consistent use of populist discourse in the performances of Boris Kollár, Igor Matovič, and Marián Kotleba, with the latter two producing several extremely populist performances. We then discuss our results and further implications derived from the collected data.
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