An Insatiable Hunger for Charisma? : A Follower-Centric Analysis of Populism and Charismatic Leadership

Metz, Rudolf and Plesz, Bendegúz (2023) An Insatiable Hunger for Charisma? : A Follower-Centric Analysis of Populism and Charismatic Leadership. LEADERSHIP, 19 (4). pp. 1-21. ISSN 1742-7150 (print);1742-7169 (online)


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While scholarship often assumes that strong leaders and charismatic leadership play an important role in the emergence of populist politics, research has missed a closer exploration of charisma attribution to populists. Addressing this charismatic leadership hypothesis requires populism and charisma to be analysed from the followers’ perspective. This article takes a unique look at the social-psychological dynamics behind populism. Using quantitative survey data that was collected from Hungarian voters ( N = 1200), this article examines the relationship between populist attitudes as follower characteristics in modern politics and charisma attribution. To reveal how a populist worldview can affect the follower’s expectations and perceptions, we break charisma attribution down into three phases: (1) the general hunger for charisma (the romance of leadership); (2) perceptions of charismatic behaviour of the top candidates in the 2022 Hungarian parliamentary elections (i.e., Viktor Orbán and Péter Márki-Zay); and (3) emotional attachment to these leaders. Our findings show that populism makes people more hungry for charisma and more sensitive to recognising charismatic behaviour but does not necessarily create an emotional bond with specific leaders. This article also sheds light on some directions of future research to explore other distinctive characteristics of populist followers that can influence social constructions of charismatic leadership. The limitations and implications are also discussed.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: J Political Science / politológia > JA Political science (General) / politológia általában
Depositing User: MTMT SWORD
Date Deposited: 04 Sep 2023 09:16
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2023 09:16

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