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Populism is a political doctrine or philosophy that purports to defend the interests of the common people against an entrenched, self-serving elite. There has often been dispute over definitions of populism, with some even arguing that the term is too vague to be useful. Recently, in their volume Twenty-First Century Populism: The Spectre of Western European Democracy, Daniele Albertazzi and Duncan McDonnell define populism as "an ideology which pits a virtuous and homogeneous people against a set of elites and dangerous ‘others’ who are together depicted as depriving (or attempting to deprive) the sovereign people of their rights, values, prosperity, identity and voice" (Palgrave MacMillan, 2007).
Recent scholarship has also discussed populism as a rhetorical style; as such, the term "populist" may be applied to proponents of widely varying political philosophies. Leaders of populist movements in recent decades have claimed to be on both the left and the right of the political spectrum, while some populists claim to be neither "left wing," "centrist" nor "right wing."
Leaders of populist movements have variously tried to stand up to corporate power, remove "corrupt" elites, fight for the "poor people of the country", and "put people first." Populism incorporates anti-regime politics, and sometimes espouses nationalism, jingoism, racism or religious fundamentalism. Often they employ dichotomous rhetoric, and claim to represent the majority of the people. Many populists appeal to a specific region of a country or to a specific social class, such as the working class, middle class, or farmers or simply "the poor".