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Populism in the Caribbean

Populismis the conviction that ‘the people’ should rule society directly. Populist leaders view themselves as the chosen ones, while the elites and institutions stand between these leaders and the people – or the will of the people – and should be removed by any means and at all costs (Vossen, 2009).

Populism is a thin or empty ideology and that is why it over laps with other ideologies that are more firmly based onvalues, such as nationalism, socialism, or liberalism. Other ideology do notcrowd out populism but are complementary (Ramirez, 2009; Vossen, 2010).

According to Frissen, in his comments onthis paper: populism in Europe today, culture is a  specific factor. It is about a potential clash between cultures. Populism makes a distinction between the pure people on the one side and the immigrants, criminals and perverts on the other. The divide between the well educated and the less educated is also a factor, as is the difference between the cosmopolitan and the nationalist.

Theory states that populists avoid to take office. Once a populist takes office he becomes routinized (Ramirez, 2009).

According to scholars, there are several conditions that favor the rise of populism: poor social and economic conditions, erosion of institutions especially political institutions, and the presence of charismatic leaders (Deiwiks, 2009). Charismatic authority is defined by Weber (1992) as: resting on devotion to the exceptional sanctity, heroism or exemplary character of an individual person, and of the normative patterns or order revealed or ordained by him. A specific socio-economic condition is poor education of large parts of the population, although research of the Dutch case (the populist Geert Wilders) has shown that the more educated are well represented in the populist voting base and growing[1]. Lately, wide access to media has been added to the list of favourable conditions. The media make it possible for populists not only to send their simplified messages, often a set of one-liners, to the people, but also make it possible to hear the voice of the people (Castells, 2009).

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