Visual Communication strategy of populist leaders on Instagram in 2020

Ilya Lavrov, Chiara Miozzo, Marie Palaffre, Franziska Schranz


In recent years social media platforms, especially Instagram, have become one of the most crucial elements of visual political communication strategies, assisting politicians with creating their visual image in the minds of citizens. At the same time, the strengthening of the populist trend in the modern political landscape is noted in many countries in different parts of the world. The present study examines the virtual visual strategy of 12 populist leaders in democratic states in 2020 with the use of digital methods. In this study the type of content populists publish in their Instagram profiles is determined, comparative analysis between populists in different states is conducted as well as the engagement analysis and textual analysis with the focus on the COVID-19 rhetoric. It was revealed that populist leaders post pictures that communicate personal and national power. While showing how strong and reliable they are, they also portray themselves as ordinary citizens.

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