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Revista mexicana de opinión pública

versión On-line ISSN 2448-4911versión impresa ISSN 1870-7300


SARSFIELD, Rodolfo. Between the Pure People and the Corrupt Elite. Populist Storytelling and Affective Polarization in Social Media in Mexico. Rev. mex. opinión pública [online]. 2023, n.35, pp.13-34.  Epub 11-Dic-2023. ISSN 2448-4911.

According to the ideational definition of populism, a narrative is populist if it is characterized by a Manichean cosmology that divides the political community between a people, conceived as a homogeneously virtuous entity, and an elite, envisioned as a homogeneously corrupt entity (Hawkins and Rovira Kaltwasser, 2019; Mudde, 2004). From this definition, the president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) seems to have exhibited a populist narrative. Starting from that conceptualization and focusing on a case study, this work investigates whether such a narrative produces polarization and, especially, which of those two attributes exerts a greater causal effect on polarized attitudes among citizens, proposing the hypothesis that messages invoking a corrupt elite are more likely to generate affective polarization than messages alluding to a pure people. In order to test this hypothesis, this article performs a textual analysis of both AMLO posts on Facebook and the comments of followers to such posts. The results show that comments to López Obrador’s posts are significantly more polarized when his publications display a negative message about the “elite” than when they show a message with a positive mention to the “people”. The allusions to a “corrupt elite” seem to trigger a great affective polarization in social media.

Palabras llave : Populism; affective polarization; social media; Mexico.

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