Populists under pressure

A few years ago Nina Horaczek wrote an acclaimed portrait of Freedom Party boss Heinz-Christian Strache. Already in 2000, Walter Ötsch presented his book on Austria’s most feared right-wing ideologist Jörg Haider.

Now the Falter journalist and the university lecturer decided to analyse the strategies of populists in general. “Populismus für Anfänger. Anleitung zur Volksverführung” can be seen as a 250-page guidebook on how to unmask the phoney tactics of populist politicians and their supporters on social media and in reality.

Horaczek and Ötsch warn from “dangerous developments” as populists prefer malicious generalisations based on certain deplorable incidents. According to the authors, it is always “us and them” for populists. Following a terrorist attack, all Muslims are radical Islamists endorsing terror while migrants are ensuring that elderly natives receive fewer social benefits.

Horaczek is the co-author of “Gegen Vorurteile. Wie du dich mit guten Argumenten gegen dumme Behauptungen wehrst” and a new book on Sebastian Kurz, the popular leader of the conservative ÖVP who is about to become the first Austria politician who manages to escape the long shadow cast by Haider.

In a recent interview with orf.at, the author hit out at populists’ mainstream opponents for lacking concepts. Instead, they would ensure that populists keep getting all the attention by reacting furiously to another outrageous quote.

Populismus für Anfänger. Anleitung zur Volksverführung
By Nina Horaczek & Walter Ötsch
Published by Westend (www.westendverlag.de)

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