This article adds nuance to current understandings of the relationship between the populist leader and the public by using the concept of trust
'Public Trust and the Populist Leader: A Theoretical Argument
This article adds nuance to current understandings of the relationship between the populist leader and the public by using the concept of trust. Merging the literature on populism with the growing scholarship on trust from philosophy, psychology and other social sciences, it argues that following on from the populist leader’s appeals to similarity, the populist–public relationship involves an intertwining of two forms of public trust: the public’s trust in the populist and the public’s trust in itself (what we term ‘public self-trust’). Contrary to what political and constitutional theorists have recognized as a tension between public self-trust and the public’s trust in its political representatives, we contend based on the scholarship on trust that in the populist–public relationship these two forms of trust can be mutually reinforcing. This mutual reinforcement, we suggest, has the potential to create a positive feedback loop of public trust that, given the value of public trust to political leaders, empowers the populist.
Date: 12 October 2022