Radical Left Populism from the Margins to the Mainstream: A Comparison of Syriza and Podemos

  • Alexandros Kioupkiolis
  • Giorgos Katsambekis


In our chapter, we focus our analysis on what we consider the two paradigmatic cases of this new left-wing populism in today’s Europe: Syriza and Podemos. We highlight their discursive strategies and ideologico-political development, as well as the transformations they have undergone since they established themselves as “key players” in the political scenes of Greece and Spain. First, we will briefly clarify our theoretical understanding and methodological approach of populist politics, drawing on the tradition of discourse theory. Second, we will chart the basic similarities and differences among the two aforementioned parties, focusing especially on the way they construct the popular subject (“the people”) and its political enemy (“the establishment,” la casta, etc.). Third, we will try to shed light on the development of these parties as they consolidated their position and came closer to power (Syriza gained power in January 2015, while Podemos has now established itself as the third major party in Spain). Overall, through this comparison we seek to offer constructive insights into the specificities and varieties of left-wing populism in today’s Europe, but also to investigate a rather under-researched aspect of this field, namely the transformation of left-wing populism as it moved from the margins of the political system to the mainstream and from there to power.


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexandros Kioupkiolis
    • 1
  • Giorgos Katsambekis
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Political SciencesAristotle University of ThessalonikiThessalonikiGreece

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