“The enemy of the people”: Populists and press freedom

Journal article


Kenny, Paul D.. (2020). “The enemy of the people”: Populists and press freedom. Political Research Quarterly. 73(2), pp. 261 - 275. https://doi.org/10.1177/1065912918824038
AuthorsKenny, Paul D.
Abstract

To what extent is populist rule associated with a decline in press freedom and freedom of expression? Populist rule refers to government headed by charismatic leaders who seek to gain and retain power by mobilizing mass constituencies that are typically free of other political attachments. Populism in this sense matters for two reasons: (1) controlling the media is a core objective of populists compared with other types of political leaders, who can rely on other organizational links to supporters; and (2) the interests of populist parties are virtually equivalent to the interests of party leaders, which means that populists face different time horizons and constraints on their behavior than the leaders of more deeply institutionalized parties. Using cross-national data on up to ninety-one countries from 1980 to 2014, this paper tests whether populist rule is associated with the erosion of press freedom and freedom of expression relative to other types of government and whether any effect is conditional on the ideology of the populist government in question. It finds that populist rule is associated with a decline in most measures of media freedom relative to programmatic party rule. However, this effect is lessened for right-leaning populist governments.

Keywordspopulism; press freedom; freedom of expression; political parties; ideology
Year2020
JournalPolitical Research Quarterly
Journal citation73 (2), pp. 261 - 275
PublisherSAGE Publications Inc.
ISSN1065-9129
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1177/1065912918824038
Scopus EID2-s2.0-85060699995
Page range261 - 275
Research GroupInstitute for Humanities and Social Sciences
Publisher's version
File Access Level
Controlled
Place of publicationUnited States of America
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https://acuresearchbank.acu.edu.au/item/86w51/-the-enemy-of-the-people-populists-and-press-freedom

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