Populism Versus Anti-populism in the Greek Press: Post-Structuralist Discourse Theory Meets Corpus Linguistics

  • Nikos Nikisianis
  • Thomas Siomos
  • Yannis Stavrakakis
  • Grigoris Markou
  • Titika Dimitroulia
Part of the Postdisciplinary Studies in Discourse book series (PSDS)


Within the scope of the POPULISMUS research project (2014–5), we have engaged in a methodological cross-fertilization between Essex School-inspired methods of analysis and computer-assisted text analysis (drawing on corpus linguistics). In this chapter, emphasis is placed on the Greek case and the material analyzed involves newspaper articles from the 2014–5 period. In particular, the analysis focuses on the antagonistic language games developed around representations of ‘the people’ and ‘populism’. Highlighting the need to study anti-populism together with populism, something that has not attracted much attention in the relevant bibliography, and focusing on their mutual constitution from a discourse-theoretical as well as lexicometric perspective, we articulate a comprehensive analysis of the populist and anti-populist press in Greece, with broader implications for populism research globally.


Populism Anti-populism People Democracy Greek press Essex School Corpus linguistics 



This article draws on material collected within the scope of the POPULISMUS research project ( POPULISMUS was undertaken at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (2014–2015), with funding from the European Union (European Social Fund) and National Funds (Greece) within the framework of the Operational Programme ‘Education and Lifelong Learning’ (Action ‘ARISTEIA II’). The collection of more recent press material relied on a grant from the Research Committee of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. The research of Grigoris Markou has been financially supported by the General Secretariat for Research and Technology (GSRT) and the Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation (HFRI) (Scholarship Code: 391).



  1. Abts, K., & Rummens, S. (2007). Populism Versus Democracy. Political Studies, 55(2), 405–424.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Akkerman, T. (2003). Populism and Democracy: Challenge or Pathology? Acta Politica, 38(2), 147–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar


  1. Barthes, R., & Howard, R. (1979). Lecture in Inauguration of the Chair of Literary Semiology, Collège de France, January 7, 1977. October, 8(Spring), 3–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar


  1. Caiani, M., & della Porta, D. (2011). The Elitist Populism of the Extreme Right: A Frame Analysis of Extreme Right-Wing Discourses in Italy and Germany. Acta Politica, 46(2), 180–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Cendrowicz, L. (2012). 10 Questions with European Commission President Jose´ Manuel Barroso. Time Magazine. Published Online: Accessed 1 Mar 2018.
  3. Conaghan, C., & De la Torre, C. (2008). The Permanent Campaign of Rafael Correa Making Ecuador’s Plebiscitary Presidency. International Journal of Press and Politics, 13(3), 267–284.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Corrales, J., & Penfold, M. (2011). Dragon in the Tropics: Hugo Chavez and the Political Economy of Revolution in Venezuela. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.Google Scholar


  1. De la Torre, C. (2000). Populist Seduction in Latin America. Athens: Ohio University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Di Tella, T. (1965). Populism and Reform in Latin America. In C. Véliz (Ed.), Obstacles to Change in Latin America (pp. 47–73). London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Doxiadis, A., & Matsaganis, M. (2012). National Populism and Xenophobia in Greece. London: Counterpoint.Google Scholar


  1. Germani, G. (1978). Authoritarianism, Fascism, and National Populism. New Brunswick: Transaction, Inc.Google Scholar
  2. Glasze, G. (2007). The Discursive Constitution of a World-Spanning Region and the Role of Empty Signifiers: The Case of Francophonia. Geopolitics, 12, 656–679.CrossRefGoogle Scholar


  1. Hofstadter, R. (1955). The Age of Reform. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  2. Howarth, D., Norval, A., & Stavrakakis, Y. (Eds.). (2000). Discourse Theory and Political Analysis: Identities, Hegemonies and Social Change. Manchester/New York: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar


  1. Karush, M., & Chamosa, O. (2010). Introduction. In M. Karush & O. Chamosa (Eds.), The New Cultural History of Peronism: Power and Identity in Mid-Twentieth-Century Argentina (pp. 1–20). Durham: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar


  1. Laclau, E. (2005). On Populist Reason. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  2. Laclau, E., & Mouffe, C. (1985). Hegemony and Socialist Strategy: Towards a Radical Democratic Politics (1st ed.). London/ New York: Verso.Google Scholar
  3. Laclau, E., & Mouffe, C. (2001). Hegemony and Socialist Strategy: Towards a Radical Democratic Politics (2nd ed.). London: Verso.Google Scholar


  1. Meny, Y., & Surel, Y. (2002). The Constitutive Ambiguity of Populism. In Y. Meny & Y. Surel (Eds.), Democracies and the Populist Challenge (pp. 1–21). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Müller, J. W. (2016). What Is Populism? Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar


  1. Pantazopoulos, A. (2001). Gia to lao kai to ethnos: I stigmi tou Andrea Papandreou 1965–1989. Athens: Polis.Google Scholar
  2. Pantazopoulos, Α. (2013). O aristeros ethnikolaikismos 2008–2013. Thessaloniki: Epikentro.Google Scholar
  3. di Piramo, D. (2009). “Speak for Me!”: How Populist Leaders Defy Democracy in Latin America. Global Change, Peace and Security, 21(2), 179–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Plotkin, M. B. (2003). Manana es San Peron: A Cultural History of Peron’s Argentina. Willmington: Scholarly Resources Inc.Google Scholar


  1. Rooduijn, M., & Pauwels, T. (2011). Measuring Populism: Comparing Two Methods of Content Analysis. West European Politics, 34(6), 1272–1283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Rydgren, J. (2004). The Populist Challenge: Political Protest and Ethno-Nationalist Mobilization in France. New York: Berghahn books.Google Scholar


  1. Stavrakakis, Y. (1999). Lacan & the Political. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  2. Stavrakakis, Y. (2014). The Return of ‘the People’: Populism and AntiPopulism in the Shadow of the European Crisis. Constellations, 21(4), 505–517.CrossRefGoogle Scholar


  1. Taggart, P. (2000). Populism. Buckingham: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Taguieff, P. A. (1984). La rhétorique du national-populisme. Mots, 9, 113–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Taguieff, P. A. (2013). O neos ethniko-laikismos. Thessaloniki: Epikentro.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nikos Nikisianis
    • 1
  • Thomas Siomos
    • 2
  • Yannis Stavrakakis
    • 3
  • Grigoris Markou
    • 3
  • Titika Dimitroulia
    • 4
  1. 1.School of BiologyAristotle University of ThessalonikiThessalonikiGreece
  2. 2.School of Journalism and Mass CommunicationsAristotle University of ThessalonikiThessalonikiGreece
  3. 3.School of Political SciencesAristotle University of ThessalonikiThessalonikiGreece
  4. 4.Department of French Language and LiteratureAristotle University of ThessalonikiThessalonikiGreece

Personalised recommendations