Logic and Emotion in Public Discourse
Edited by Ofer Feldman
Chapter 11: They are lying to us! The rhetoric of direct communication by populist politicians and its effects on the electorate: evidence from the Netherlands
Social Network Sites provide an important platform for populist politicians to spread their rhetoric, as they can directly forge a relationship with the ordinary people whilst bypassing the “corrupt” elites, including the mainstream media they claim to distrust. Against this backdrop, this chapter investigates the content and effects of online communication by Geert Wilders, a Dutch right-wing populist politician. The findings of the first study indicate that Wilders cultivates a severe crisis situation by emphasizing that the ordinary people are deprived and threatened by the corrupt elites, as well as dangerous immigrants and Islam. Wilders further stresses that the elites in politics and the media are lying to the ordinary people. The second study indicates that these populist messages only have an effect on populist attitudes when people’s prior beliefs align with the message. Together, this chapter offers important insights into the discourse and effects of politicians’ direct populist communication.
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