Legitimacy for some

Right-wing populist rationality and antagonistic politics


  • Fredrik Portin Åbo Akademi University


Populism, Politics, Political parties, Political science, Democracy, Multiculturalism


The purpose of this article is to examine under what conditions the disruptive character of right-wing populism can be perceived as a positive element within a functioning democracy. Using the thinking of philosophers Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe I argue that the disruptive character of right-wing populism gives the marginalised concerns of ‘the people’ public legitimacy. However, right-wing populism is also criticised for excluding, in a similar fashion, certain social actors from the public sphere. Instead of enabling a more inclusive society, I therefore argue that right-wing populism enables a society that is distinguished by antagonism. To make it possible for all social actors’ concerns to gain public legitimacy without promoting antagonism, I argue that a new political reality needs to be imagined. In conclusion I therefore offer a theoretical framework for such a reality through the political philosophy of Bruno Latour.




How to Cite

Portin, F. (2018). Legitimacy for some: Right-wing populist rationality and antagonistic politics. Scripta Instituti Donneriani Aboensis, 28, 30–50. https://doi.org/10.30674/scripta.70066