Measuring Populist Discourse of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
A Quantitative Content Analysis
Keywords:content analysis, election campaigns, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan , Turkish politics, Turkish populism
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has long been considered a populist leader. This study attempts to investigate the evolution of Erdoğan’s populist discourse by examining his political campaign speeches throughout all years of his rule. Using computer-based quantitative content analysis, we analyze the dimensions of populism in Erdoğan’s speeches over time. Our data includes 42 election campaign speeches held between 2004 and 2018. We demonstrate how three dimensions of populism (people-centrism, anti-elitism, moralistic imagination of politics) manifest in Erdoğan’s speeches and how Erdoğan’s degree of populism varies from one election campaign to another. People-centrist approach constitutes the largest share of his discourse in comparison to other dimensions throughout all campaign speeches. Erdoğan’s anti-elitist rhetoric was insignificant during the initial period of his incumbency. However, it increased considerably in the 2014 and 2018 election campaigns. We connect these empirical trends to the particular events in Turkish politics. Thus, this study contributes to the field by providing an empirical approach to Erdoğan’s speeches.
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