This is the first book-length account of populism in the Visegrád Four (V4) countries — Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia — for the first 30 years of multi-party competition since the transformative events of 1989–91 in Central and Eastern Europe.
Advancing a post-foundational approach to populism based on a semi-formal reading of Ernesto Laclau's theory, the book undertakes a detailed examination of how the 'people' has been constructed in populist discourses in the party systems of the four countries since 1989. Drawing on a wealth of source material, the book offers both a wide-ranging and in-depth overview and classification of populism in the V4 in terms of discursive (e.g. centrist, conservative, left-wing, liberal, nationalist, social) and hegemonic type (e.g. authoritarian hegemonic, generational counter-hegemonic) alike.
This book will be of interest to students and scholars of populism, party politics, and Central and Eastern Europe.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Discourse, Hegemony, Populism, and the Visegrád Four
1. Discourse – Hegemony – Populism: A Conceptual Horizon
2. Discourse – Hegemony – Populism: A Framework for Analysis
3. Populism in the Czech Republic
4. Populism in Hungary
5. Populism in Poland
6. Populism in Slovakia
7. Conclusions: Discourse, Hegemony, and Populism after ’89
Seongcheol Kim is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Institute of Intercultural and International Studies at the University of Bremen, Germany.
"Seongcheol Kim’s book is a unique and indispensable contribution to the debate on populism in East-Central Europe. It is the first in-depth and comparative analysis of populist discourse in the four Visegrád countries, covering the whole of the post-1989 period and using primary sources in their original language. The book is all the more important because it puts populism in the historical perspective of the post-communist transformation, showing a variety of manifestations, and stressing the need for careful, informed, and contextual analysis."
Paul Blokker, University of Bologna, Italy
"By grounding his argumentation on a challenging post-foundational framework, which is then employed to illuminate contemporary politics in the Visegrád Four, Kim excels on two fronts. First, he offers a uniquely nuanced analysis of populism in the region, beyond stereotypical applications of the term. Second, he endows critical populism research with a comprehensive and illuminating take on concrete cases like Poland and Hungary, which are often neglected in this Laclau-inspired tradition."
Yannis Stavrakakis, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
"Seongcheol Kim’s book is a much-needed work to overcome simplifications of the ‘illiberal backlash’ as it offers an in-depth study of the diverse shapes populism has assumed in the region [Central-Eastern Europe] beyond the equivalence between populism and illiberalism. The book aims to enhance clarity in the comprehension of the political scene in the Visegrád Four (V4: Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia) by focusing on the construction of the ‘people’. The result is a nuanced differentiation of populisms that sheds light on the political trajectories of these countries in the last 30 years and the relation (if any) between populism and illiberalism… the book is a valid contribution to the populist literature on Central-Eastern Europe: on the one hand, the deep analysis of populism(s) in the V4 is enlightening for those that seek to understand the nature of populist parties in these countries and their context of emergence. On the other hand, the book contributes to populist literature by empirically showing the different meanings the signifier ‘people’ can assume and how the populist logic of articulation works in practice."
Francesco Melito, Jagiellonian University, Poland (writing in Populism: Newsletter of the Populism Specialist Group Political Studies Association, Issue 5, June 2022)