Framing a Populist Leader: Case Study of the Latvian Parliamentary Elections

Barbara ROSKOŠA and Ilga KREITUSE (Riga Stradiņš University)

The13th Latvian parliamentary elections in 2018 showed how populist leaders by using targeted messaging, emotions of the electorate, and the advantage of technologies conquered the election. The 13th Saeima elections proved the effectiveness of populism; however, because of the fallout of populist parties not being able to form a Cabinet and therefore get the Prime Minister seat, the parties collapsed later on. The formation of populist leaders for the 14th election of the Saeima has already started since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Given how frustrated, apprehensive, and confused the electorate is because of yet another crisis situation and the disappointment with the 13th Saeima, a public despair becomes a breeding ground for populist parties to gain votes. Therefore what matters is how political actors, the media, and, most importantly, the electorate will prepare for these elections and will they learn from the mistakes of 2018. By using the data from 2018 elections, it is possible to analyse the communication of the 14th Saeima populist leaders effectively and be aware of the challenges that the parliamentary democracy faces in the digital populism era in Latvia and internationally.