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Populism in the Caribbean

This study is a qualitative case study of the discourse and presentations of politicians in Curaçao. It is not a content analysis, as content analysis often involves a great deal of counting and coding that can obscure the context. The results and conclusions of this investigation are drawn from an interpretative analysis of the patterns that characterize the pronouncements of politicians in Curaçao over a period, focusing on similarities and differences between these politicians. Ultimately, the methods used in developing this thesis involve a great deal of intelligent reading. The investigation is an observational test of theory, without imposing external values.

Based on a review of the literature review, it can be assumed that every politician is, by definition, a populist to a certain extend. In that context, a politician is classified as a populist if he or she scores higher than his or her peers on the variable factors presented. Two sets of factorsare identified: basic or universal factors of populism and local factorsrelated to the Caribbean.

Basic factors:

Denunciation of the elites: the elites as part of the discourse

Glorification of the people

Inclination to conspiracy theories

Preference for direct democracy

Local factors:

The mother country as part of the discourse/ Colonization

Ethnicity: race as part of the discourse



The media were monitored from January 2010 to October 2011. The discourse and presentations of politicians were recorded and analyzed. The media were sampled according to the following schedule. The news and talk shows on three of the twenty-six radio stations were monitored daily. The news and talk shows on two of the three local television stations were monitored daily. All nine news papers were monitored daily. Interviews with and presentations by politicians were carefully examined. Not only was the content observed but also the style of presentation. The texts were studied looking for the following key words or equivalents associated with populism: “The people”, “The elite”, “The establishment”, “Networks”, “Colonists”, “Corruption”, “God”, “Socialism” and “Neoliberalism”.

There is always a chance of in accurate sampling, and this a rises from two sources:the data collected may not be representative of the universe from which data issought, and in the process of analysis there may be a focus on a section of thedata that is not representative of the whole body of data collected. To reduce the likelihood of the former source of error, all other media were also randomly sampled during the period of the investigation. To avoid the latter, analyses were shared and debated with political observers and other stakeholders. The draft of this paper was reviewed by a number of peers who added some critical insights.[1]

The value of this kind of case study is that studying several case studies can contribute to theory and hypothesis development.

[1] I thank the following peers for their contribution: Miriam Sluis Bac, Michiel van der Veurt MSc, Gerda Fokker MSc,  Mike Jacobs MSc, Prof. Dr. Roel in ‘t Veld,Prof. Dr. Paul Frissen, Prof. Dr. Leo Huberts, Prof. David Turner.

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