On the 2nd of May, Dr. Reinhard Heinisch of the University of Salzburg spoke to us about his research over populism. He was first introduced to us by one of his former students, who calls Heinisch a “commentator of world events.” Heinisch first began studying populism in the early 2000’s, and called it an episodic phenomenon in which Radical parties are advancing. I had no prior knowledge about populism, and rather, had no idea about anything he spoke about so this was a very informative talk that opened up another view of the world. Heinisch discussed that we live in an age of populism, and of course I had to go ahead and google the exact definition of it.
Populism: political program or movement that champions the common person, usually by favourable contrast with an elite.
Heinisch explained many of the aspects of the populist party, and the differences and similarities of them all across Europe – leading to the discovery that they are all very similar in many ways. He, himself, defined populism as that it can be a political style, a strategy, and/or even and ideology. As a political style, he said that politicians want to be seen as the common man. As a strategy, he said that it is the idea to mobilize and to draw the people’s attention. And as an ideology, he said that it is without a difference of classes or interest. It was a very interesting talk, especially when he began to speak about countries like Hungary where I have recently traveled to, or about countries where I am planning on traveling to like Austria.
Overall, this was a very interesting event that OU was able to give its students. I am very interested to learn more about populism and the political parties in Europe.