Successful populist leaders are frequently described as charismatic, theoretically implying followers who unconditionally support and believe in the leader’s extra-ordinariness and mission. Many scholars have criticized the charisma-thesis, however, it is often ignored that charisma instead of being a trait of the leader, resides in ‘the eye of the beholder’. Considered as such, charisma is one of the possible outcomes of subjectively, interactively, and interpretatively constructed leader-follower relationships. Hence our question: If and under which circumstances does populist leadership gather a charismatic following? Social media provides us with a yet underexplored empirical possibility to study populist leaders’ discourse and followers’ reactions. Therefore, we analysed data from Belgium’s most popular self-managed political Facebook-page, Theo Francken’s, secretary of state for migration and often accused of ethno-populism.
Reference: Caprioli, Mauro Ugo ; Versailles, Alban. Populist leadership and charismatic following. An empirical analysis of social media interactions between leader and followers..ECPR General Conference 2018 (Hamburg, du 22/08/2018 au 25/08/2018).