From Suits to Olive Green: Zelenskyy’s Populism

From Suits To Olive-Green

Zelenskyy’s populism prior to and after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

This essay embarks on a scholarly exploration of the nuanced realm of populist rhetoric, focusing on the case of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy within the intricate landscape of Ukraine’s political dynamics. The analysis encompasses the dynamic evolution of populist discourse in response to pivotal events, particularly the heightened Russo-Ukrainian border tensions and the subsequent full-scale Russian invasion. Through the examination of the period spanning from mid-November 2021 to 31 December 2022, this study elucidates the adaptation of Zelenskyy’s populist strategies, illuminating the interplay of anti-polarization and inclusionary populism in the context of a significant national challenge. While Zelenskyy’s approach defies traditional categorizations, his ability to tap into the collective identity of the Ukrainian people and leverage performative actions shines through. The essay assesses his populist discourse, highlighting its strengths and complexities, ultimately contributing to a more profound understanding of his populist leadership style in the face of adversity.

by Bohdan Novoshytskyi

The author holds a BA in International Relations from Odesa I.I. Mechnikov University and is currently doing his master’s in Global Studies at Ghent and Leipzig. His research interests lie at the intersection of European and Indo-Pacific studies.

This essay is part of an occasional series on populism and conflict, curated by dr. Julian Kuttig (Conflict Research Group, Ghent University)


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