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Photo: “Palace balcany Unirii view“, by Simon Laird licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5. Hue modified from the original

Kiss, Tamás, and István Gergő Székely. “Populism on the Semi-Periphery: Some Considerations for Understanding the Anti-Corruption Discourse in Romania.” Problems of Post-Communism (2021): 1-14.


The article analyzes why and how anti-corruption has become a quasi-hegemonic metanarrative and identity marker of urban middle classes in Romania, and argues that it is part of a complex identity discourse that is in essence populist.  It pits “the People” against the elites, it displays an exclusionary character, and the hostility toward elected institutions is also present. While scholarly accounts rarely associate Romanian anti-corruption discourse with populism (because of its putative “progressivism”), we argue that it should be regarded as a prominent example of a new form of populism emerging on the semi-peripheries of the Western core.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.