Debating Populism vs Democracy in the Bulgarian Media Ecosystem

Lilia Raycheva

Department of Communication and Audio-Visual Production

Faculty of Journalism and Mass Communication

Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”


Abstract: Transformation processes in the technological, economic, and social spheres characterize the contemporary developments of mankind. These transformations impact the political environment and the media ecosystem as well. The challenges of the economic crisis, as well as the migration processes strengthen the positions of Euro-skeptics and revitalize the development of populism. Populism as a political concept and rhetorical style is nowadays an object of multi- faceted social discussions. The strong critical attitude of populists towards the status quo is generally intertwined with the function of the media as a corrective factor of government authorities. The paper is focused on the developments of political populism in Bulgaria and their media reflections and it includes the results of in-depth interviews conducted with Bulgarian politicians and journalists with regard to their perception of populismThe aim has been to compare the opinions of the interviewees on five key areas: their understanding of the concept of populism; the perceived consequences of populism for the country and for democracy; the reasons for the popularity of populist leaders and parties; the issues most related to the rise of populism and whether the media are supportive, critical or behave in a populist manner.

Keywords: media ecosystem, political populism, mediatization, politicization, Bulgaria.

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