Dutch populist politicians Pim Fortuyn, Geert Wilders and Rita Verdonk have all put populism back on the political map. Fortuyn was a true populist and Wilders and Verdonk try to follow in his footsteps and achieve his past successes. But what is populism?
The expression populism comes from the ancient Roman phrase ‘vox populi, vox dei.’ ‘Voice of the people, voice of God.’ This idea still lives in the weekly polls and the influence they have on governments and politicians. The problems they indicate should be taken seriously but the so-called direct influence which citizens would have on government is directly conflicting democracy.
Aided by preference votes and opinion polls, Geert Wilders and Rita Verdonk put their own political agenda above that of their former parties. How should we deal with this phenomena? In this intellectual and objective essay Anton Zijderveld gives us clues how to analyze and unmask the firm one-liners that work so well in the media.