The impact and emergence of populism in political and public leadership


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There is a general consensus among researchers that leaders play an important role in the emergence and development of populism: they lead populist parties or movements, organize mobilization, and articulate the populist worldview. The success of populist leaders rests upon the specific relationship they develop with their supporters (Barr, 2018; Casullo, 2019; Diehl, 2018; Laclau, 2005; Moffitt, 2016; Pappas, 2019; Urbinati, 2019; Weyland, 2001; cf. Mudde and Rovira Kaltwasser, 2014). There have been many empirical studies of populist leaders and leadership (Andrews-Lee, 2021; Favero, 2022; McDonnell, 2016; Merolla and Zechmeister, 2011; Metz and Plesz, 2023; Michel et al., 2020; Seijts and de Clercy, 2020), yet these typically have little or no connection to leadership studies (Hartley, 2018; Sousa and van Dierendonck, 2021; Uysal et al., 2022). 

The special issue seeks to bridge the discourse of political science and public management studies by inviting researchers from a wide range of theoretical and disciplinary backgrounds to engage in a collective debate and explore the relationship between populism and leadership. 

Rather than focusing exclusively on a theoretical interpretation of populist leadership, it seeks to incorporate different perspectives to answer questions such as: How does populism manifest itself in leadership dynamics and processes? How does populism affect followers and their leaders in the executive and legislative branches, local governments, party organizations, and public administration? How do mainstream established actors respond to the populist challengers? What are the broader implications of populist leadership for institutions, society, and democracy?

Our specific aim is to answer these questions and to explore and assess the challenges that populism poses both to the study of political and public leadership and to the key actors of leadership (leaders and followers) and their contexts (society, institutions, and democracy). The special issue also contributes valuable insights to a better understanding of the nature, limits, and challenges of modern political and public leadership and the roles of followers and leaders in modern populist politics.


Andrews-Lee, C. (2021), The Emergence and Revival of Charismatic Movements: Argentine Peronism and Venezuelan Chavismo, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
Barr, R.R. (2019), “Populism as a political strategy”, in la Torre, C. de (Ed.), Routledge Handbook of Global Populism, Routledge, New York, pp. 44–56
Casullo, M.E. (2019), “How to Become a Leader: Identifying Global Repertoires for Populist Leadership”, in Stengel, F.A., MacDonald, D.B. and Nabers, D. (Eds.), Populism and World Politics: Exploring Inter- and Transnational Dimensions, Springer International Publishing, Cham, pp. 55–72
Diehl, P. (2018), “Populist Twist: The Relationship between the Leader and the People in Populism”, in Castiglione, D. and Pollak, J. (Eds.), Creating Political Presence: The New Politics of Democratic Representation, University of Chicago Press
Favero, A. (2022), “Charisma in Right-Wing Populism: Comparing the View of the Leader and Followers within the Swiss People’s Party”, Swiss Political Science Review, Vol. 28 No. 3, pp. 477–495.
Hartley, J. (2018), “Ten propositions about public leadership”, International Journal of Public Leadership, Vol. 14 No. 4, pp. 202–217.
Laclau, E. (2005), On Populist Reason, Verso, London ; New York.
McDonnell, D. (2016), “Populist Leaders and Coterie Charisma”, Political Studies, Vol. 64 No. 3, pp. 719–733.
Merolla, J.L. and Zechmeister, E.J. (2011), “The Nature, Determinants, and Consequences of Chávez’s Charisma: Evidence From a Study of Venezuelan Public Opinion”, Comparative Political Studies, Vol. 44 No. 1, pp. 28–54,.
Metz, R. and Plesz, B. (2023), “An insatiable hunger for charisma? A follower-centric analysis of populism and charismatic leadership”, Leadership, Vol. 4 No. 19, pp. 318-338.
Michel, E., Garzia, D., Ferreira da Silva, F. and De Angelis, A. (2020), “Leader Effects and Voting for the Populist Radical Right in Western Europe”, Swiss Political Science Review, Vol. 26 No. 3, pp. 273–295
Moffitt, B. (2016), The Global Rise of Populism: Performance, Political Style, and Representation, Stanford University Press, Stanford, California.
Mudde, C. and Rovira Kaltwasser, C. (2014), “Populism and Political Leadership”, in Rhodes, R.A.W. and ’t Hart, P. (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Political Leadership, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 376-388.
Pappas, T.S. (2019), Populism and Liberal Democracy: A Comparative and Theoretical Analysis, Oxford Universtiy Press, Oxford.
Seijts, G. and de Clercy, C. (2020), “How Do Populist Voters Rate Their Political Leaders? Comparing Citizen Assessments in Three Jurisdictions”, Politics and Governance, Vol. 8 No. 1, pp. 133–145.
Sousa, M. and van Dierendonck, D. (2021), “Serving the need of people: the case for servant leadership against populism”, Journal of Change Management, Routledge, Vol. 21 No. 2, pp. 222–241.
Uysal, M.S., Jurstakova, K. and Uluşahin, Y. (2022), “An Integrative Social Identity Model of Populist Leadership”, Social and Personality Psychology Compass.
Weyland, K. (2001), “Clarifying a Contested Concept: Populism in the Study of Latin American Politics”, Comparative Politics, Vol. 34 No. 1, pp. 1–22

List of topic areas

  • Ethical, emotional, psychological, and gender aspects of populist leadership 
  • Populism and charismatic leadership;
  • Populism in leaders' rhetoric and communication;
  • Populist leadership in different institutional contexts (executive and legislative branches,
  • Political parties, social movements, local government, and administration);
  • The style and repertoire of populist leadership;
  • The implications of populist leadership for democracy, followers, and governance;
  • The manifestations of populist leadership in different cultures and countries:

Guest Editors 

 Rudolf Metz, HUN-REN, Centre for Social Sciences, Institute for Political Science, HungaryCorvinus University of Budapest, Hungary; [email protected]  
 David Elcott, NYU (retired); SUNY; [email protected] 

Submissions Information

Submissions are made using ScholarOne Manuscripts. Author guidelines must be strictly followed. 

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Author guidelines
Authors should select (from the drop-down menu) the special issue title at the appropriate step in the submission process, i.e. in response to ““Please select the issue you are submitting to”. 

Submitted articles must not have been previously published, nor should they be under consideration for publication anywhere else, while under review for this journal.

Key deadlines

Opening date for manuscripts submissions: 01/06/2024
Closing date for manuscripts submission: 15/01/2025