Contemporary Political Theory

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 4–27 | Cite as

Populism, anti-populism and crisis

  • Yannis StavrakakisEmail author
  • Giorgos Katsambekis
  • Alexandros Kioupkiolis
  • Nikos Nikisianis
  • Thomas Siomos


This article focuses on two issues involved in the formation and political trajectory of populist representations within political antagonism. First, it explores the role of crisis in the articulation of populist discourse. This problematic is far from new within theories of populism but has recently taken a new turn. We thus purport to reconsider the way populism and crisis are related, mapping the different modalities this relation can take and advancing further their theorization from the point of view of a discursive theory of the political, drawing primarily on the Essex School perspective initially developed by Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe. Second, this will involve focusing on the antagonistic language games developed around populist representations, something that has not attracted equal attention. Highlighting the need to study anti-populism together with populism, focusing on their mutual constitution, we will test the ensuing theoretical framework in an analysis of SYRIZA, a recent and, as a result, under-researched example of egalitarian, inclusionary populism emerging within the European crisis landscape.


anti-populism crisis discourse populism SYRIZA 



This article has been composed within the context of the ‘POPULISMUS: Populist Discourse and Democracy’ research project (2014–2015). POPULISMUS has been implemented at the School of Political Sciences of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki within the framework of the Operational Program ‘Education and Lifelong Learning’ (Action ‘ARISTEIA II’) and was co-funded by the European Social Fund (European Union) and Greek national funds (project no. 3217). More information is accessible from the POPULISMUS Observatory: Many thanks are due to Ioanna Garefi for her technical support.


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yannis Stavrakakis
    • 1
    Email author
  • Giorgos Katsambekis
    • 1
  • Alexandros Kioupkiolis
    • 1
  • Nikos Nikisianis
    • 1
  • Thomas Siomos
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Political SciencesAristotle University of ThessalonikiThessalonikiGreece

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