Is populism a ghost from the past or child of this century?

By Didem KAYA

Today, the shadow of fascism becomes more evident in the rapid spread of populist political movements in different regions, especially in Europe. While the external conditions, such as economic problems, social resentment, and political despair underscores the similarities that set the ground for the emergence of fascist and populist regimes in different eras, tendencies, such as anti-elitism, majoritarianism, revisionism, and anti-democracy draw attention to their shared practices and methods, uncovering the direct link between them. Analyzing the looming two-dimensional danger resulted from the proliferation of populist governments necessarily entails the examination of the substantial ramifications of their fascist predecessors on both national and international scales.

Populist movements come to power by using the methods of democracy and claim that they are the “democrats” and they really have the “democracy”. On the other hand, I think that populist movements are fundamentally authoritarian. The main reason for this is their moralistic orientation. They draw a clear-cut framework on what kind of morality the society should have, and they impose this on the whole society. Hitler was a populist leader until he brought the bourgeoisie to his side, but from then on he became a fascist leader. In that respect, we should perhaps see populism as a preliminary step in some future fascist regimes. Finchelstein makes the necessity of explaining the concept of fascism accurately and clearly by stating that it is always inclined to resemble populism. According to the him, every populism is not fascism. There is a good reason why he dwells on this issue a lot, because, when the concept of populism is used carelessly to describe any nonviolent, authoritarian regime, the concept of fascism takes on an even more exaggerated demonism. Thus, it shows oppresion populist goverments very innocent in the eyes of societies and international masses. I’ve thought before about where fascism started. Fascism does not start with the first bombs dropped nor does it begin with terrorism, which can be written about in any newspaper. Fascism begins in relations between people.

Today, experts and politicians use fascism loosely to describe not only populism, but also authoritarian regimes, international terrorism or oppressive stances of states, or even street protests of the opposition. This definition is historically problematic, such careless uses of the concept of fascism demonize populism but fail to explain the historical reasons that brought it about. Putting fascism and populism in the same bag often results in the status quo being presented as the only alternative to populist options.”

Populism is now considered as a concept that opens every door. Populism and populist labels are applied to movements, leaders and politics in different countries. Based on these designations, while there is no doubt that populism as a phenomenon has a transnational character, the debate about populism is going to take a long time. Although Federico Finchelstein states  populism is not fascism,” indeed, both of them are rising together ,The article showed us that fasicm use the same language in all era. Fascism is a global ideology reformulated itself in different  national context and undergo national  permutations.Fascism is  Hitler from Germany, Mussolini  from  Italy.  Despite the fact that author allegated in his article, fascism drop back in the 1945 and never come back again, I do not blieve that it left behind, because we have still felt his affect and result.

Federico Finchelstein, “Introduction: Thinking Fascism and Populism in terms of the Past” in Federico Finkelstein, From Fascism to Populism in History (University of California Press, 2017).

Victoria de Grazia, “What We Don’t Understand about Fascism” Zocalo Public Square

Cas Mudde, “Populism in Europe: An Illiberal Democratic Response to Undemocratic Liberalism” (The Government and Opposition/Leonard Schapiro Lecture 2019). Government and Opposition, (2021): 1-21.


My name is Didem. I came from Agri\Turkey and am MA student at EURUS. I graduated from Ankara University Department of German Language and Literature, which is one of my country Turkey’s long-established universities,with the degree in 2014. Within the scope of the Erasmus program, in the year 2013, I completed my education in Paderborn University in Germany, and in the summer period of the same year, completed my education in the University of Cologne by being awarded a DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) scholarship. This process, in particular, increased my interest in Western culture and made me wish to learn more about this culture. When I returned to my country in 2014, I got into the International Relations Department of Anadolu University and nurtured my interest and motivation in this field within an academic framework.

I chose the Postwar to EU, as I want to improve myself about European, European Union and integration.

I enjoy doing yoga, reading ,wathing movies and documentries .”Lord of the Rings” is my favourite film.

Here, I am sharing a photo of the city where I was born and grew up.