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Dramaturgy of Populism: Post-Electoral Protest Ideologies in Belarus (2020-2021)


Publication: 10.58367/NECY.PM.H.2022.2
Field of study: Sociology, Anthropology

This paper analyzes the ideologies accompanying the political crisis that occurred in Belarus between August 2020 and late December 2020. In that year, Belarus saw the largest wave of mass protest mobilization that happened in this country since it proclaimed independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. This protest wave was in many ways exceptional in comparison with other countries in the post-Soviet area. Scholars are still struggling to explain the reasons for this exceptional mobilization, and this paper contributes to this effort by looking at the ideational factors behind the pre- and post-electoral protests in Belarus.
According to the central hypothesis of this paper, the 2020 protests were triggered by the breakdown of the protesters’ identification with the image of ‘the people’ as projected by the dominant populist discourse, and the development of the
protests was accompanied by a struggle over redefinition of who ‘the people’ are. More broadly, by turning to the discursive theory of populism, this paper assesses an ambiguous democratization potential of populist mobilizations in an authoritarian polity.

Keywords: Belarus, populism, electoral politics, discourse analysis, social movements

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