Charisma in Right-Wing Populism: Comparing the view of the Leader and Followers within the Swiss People’s Party

Adrian Favero*

*Corresponding author for this work

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The ‘charismatic leader’ is a recurring topic within the literature on populist radical right parties (PRRPs), arguing that charisma is important for the success of these parties. However, most studies assess charismatic leadership only through the perception of the leaders' followers and make no statement on the leaders' perspectives and their role for party institutionalisation. This article compares the supply and the demand sides of charisma by drawing on interviews with the so-called charismatic leader of the Swiss People's Party (SVP) – Christoph Blocher – and local, regional and national party representatives. The article shows that assessing both perspectives contributes to a better understanding of charisma and its importance for internal leadership in institutionalised PRRPs. The case of the SVP further demonstrates that successful party institutionalisation and a strong internal organisational structure make the party's durability less dependent on the charismatic leader and could lead to efforts of depersonalisation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSwiss Political Science Review
Early online date22-Mar-2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22-Mar-2022

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