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Fraser, Alastair (2017) 'Post-populism in Zambia: Michael Sata’s rise, demise and legacy.' International Political Science Review, 38 (4). pp. 456-472.

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Models explaining populism as a policy response to the interests of the urban poor struggle to understand the instability of populist mobilisations. A focus on political theatre is more helpful. This article extends the debate on populist performance, showing how populists typically do not produce rehearsed performances to passive audiences. In drawing ‘the people’ on stage they are forced to improvise. As a result, populist performances are rarely sustained. The article describes the Zambian Patriotic Front’s (PF) theatrical insurrection in 2006 and its evolution over the next decade. The PF’s populist aspect had faded by 2008 and gradually disappeared in parallel with its leader Michael Sata’s ill-health and eventual death in 2014. The party was nonetheless electorally successful. The article accounts for this evolution and describes a ‘post-populist’ legacy featuring of hyper-partisanship, violence and authoritarianism. Intolerance was justified in the populist moment as a reflection of anger at inequality; it now floats free of any programme.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Elections, populism, political theatre, Laclau, Zambia, Sata, Patriotic Front
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of Politics & International Studies
ISSN: 01925121
Copyright Statement: © The Author(s) 2017. This is the accepted manuscript of an article published by SAGE in International Political Science Review, available online:
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2017 18:23

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