Populist Radical Right Parties and the Rhetoric of Emotions

The Slovak Case Study

Keywords: Emotional appeals, Emotional rhetoric, Pathos, Cognitive appraisal theory, The populist radical right, The far-right, Slovakia


This article analyses the emotional rhetoric of the populist radical right parties in Slovakia - the Slovak National Party (SNS) and the People's Party Our Slovakia (ĽSNS) - in their 2016 and 2020 election manifestos. Emotional rhetoric, or pathos, consists of emotional appeals, and this article looks specifically at four discrete appeals to emotions: retrospective anger and enthusiasm; and prospective fear and hope, and connects these emotional appeals with topics according to their relevance. This research utilises qualitative content analysis drawing categories from the field of political psychology. Unexpectedly, it is found that positive emotional appeals are generally more common than negative ones in the election manifestos of the populist radical right. The second finding is that populist radical right parties with government experience apply a very different strategy in their emotional rhetoric. The more extreme ĽSNS, without government experience, relies more on the negative emotional appeal of anger, and SNS, with extensive government experience, relies on the positive emotional appeals of hope and enthusiasm. Furthermore, these cases confirm the hypothesis that a populist radical right party that uses more appeals to anger has greater success in general elections.


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How to Cite
Gazarek, A. and Uhrecký, B. (2023) “Populist Radical Right Parties and the Rhetoric of Emotions”, Slovak Journal of Political Sciences, 23(1), pp. 56-84. doi: https://doi.org/10.34135/sjps.230103.