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“Populism” can be a helpful term—but in 2020, it’s being increasingly misused

Populism is a way of framing a specific type of politics. But increasingly, commentators are using it to mean "any popular thing I don't like"

By Charlotte Lydia Riley  

Not everything that people think of as "populist" necessarily is. Photo: PA/Prospect composite

Populism is, in 2020, all around. It can be invoked to explain the Brexit vote; the election of Trump; the popularity of Modi; the rise of far-right parties across Europe. But it can also explain the rise of Corbyn, the fall of Corbyn, the election of Boris Johnson, and the renewed popularity of the Scottish independence movement. Only Liverpool’s 22-point lead at the top of the football league has not yet been explained by ‘populism’ (and that is, surely, only a matter of time).  

Populism as a term has its uses, of course. As a political concept, it…

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