Populism as Communication: Political Campaigning on Facebook

24 September 2021, Version 1
This content is an early or alternative research output and has not been peer-reviewed at the time of posting.


We adopt the notion of populism as a communication phenomenon that includes typical elements of content and of style, moving away from actor-centered approaches towards a content-centered approach. Empirically, our study measures populism to varying degrees and forms in 3564 Facebook postings of political parties in France, Germany and the United Kingdom during the 2014 EU elections campaigns, the 2017 national parliamentary election campaigns, and a non-electoral period in 2018 in each country. The results show that populism is not a marginal phenomenon, but that it is present in about one fourth of all postings in some form; that there is variance between countries, party types, policy fields, and over time. While radical parties are very exclusionary towards out-groups on the radical right and very anti-elitist on the radical left and the radical right, this observation provides only a partial view of the multifaceted phenomenon of populism.


social media
United Kingdom
content analysis


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