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Mar 06 2019

Turkey shows largest increase in populist rhetoric among 40 countries – study

The number of populist leaders throughout the globe has more than doubled since the early 2000s, with Turkey undergoing the largest increase in populist rhetoric, according to a study of 40 countries by a global network of political scientists, the Guardian reported.

The results of a study overseen by Team Populism - based on analysis of public addresses by 140 prime ministers, presidents and chancellors - suggests politicians across the globe have gradually adopted more populist arguments, framing politics between the ‘’will of ordinary people and corrupt, self-serving elites,’’ the Guardian said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was the only non-Latin American leader to warrant a “very populist” label according to the study, in addition to being the only right-wing leader to reach that level of populist discourse.

Turkey’s strongman was classified as “not populist” when he first came to power 17 years ago, the Guardian underlined.

Turkey placed fourth in the intensity of its populism, following Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia.

Late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez was found to be the most populist leader in the database, followed by his successor Nicolas Maduro.

The study gave leaders an average populism “score”, based on the extent to which their speeches contained populist ideas with researchers grading their speeches on a 0-2 scale, ranging from not populist to very populist, it said.

‘’The overall increase in populist rhetoric, across all 40 countries, has roughly doubled from 0.2 in the early 2000s to around 0.4 today. The number of countries with leaders classified as at least “somewhat” populist – a score of 0.5 and above – has also doubled in that period, from seven in 2004, to around 14 in recent years,’’ the study found.

The study also pointed out that 15 countries, many in western Europe, have never had a leader that uses populist rhetoric during the last two decades, including Germany, Norway, Sweden, Uruguay, Chile, France, Spain, Austria, the Netherlands and Canada.

The most intriguing data in the speech-analysis, the Guardian said, pertained to the UK, where former prime ministers, including Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron, all scored very low scores on the populism scale. ‘’However, the average populism score given to Theresa May was 0.5, nudging her into the lower end of the same band of “somewhat populist” leaders that includes Trump, Modi, Orbán, Putin and Bolsonaro,’’ it said.