How to Become a Leader: Identifying Global Repertoires for Populist Leadership

  • María Esperanza Casullo
Part of the Global Political Sociology book series (GLPOSO)


Ernesto Laclau’s description in his book On Populist Reason of the creation of popular identities centered around a leader posits that the formation of a people is an impersonal social process. In clear opposition to other theories of populism (such as, for instance, Kurt Weyland’s) that define it as a strategy for accumulating personal power that can be deployed at will by ambitious politicians, for Laclau the populist leader can only become the empty signifier that unifies the chain of equivalences by virtue of a collective coalescence that is largely beyond her control. But Laclau does not explain the transition from individual to leader in detail. Is it ruled purely by chance? It cannot be completely contingent, even if it is not voluntary. This chapter argues that a certain number of socially available discursive scripts exist that mediate between the social and the individual levels. A fair number of populist leaders present themselves as either patriotic military man, social movement leader, or selfless bussinessman. The paper will analyze the global diffusion of these scripts and their differential impact for the possibility of a popular project.


Populism, leadership styles Political repertories Populism and gender South American populism 


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • María Esperanza Casullo
    • 1
  1. 1.Universidad Nacional de Río NegroCipollettiArgentina

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