Introduction. Populism and its new forms, labelled as neo-populism, have become political practice lately with major consequences that exceed the political discourse sphere and have an impact on the content of representative democracies and parliamentarism. The analysis of the leadership of those following this direction shows a tendency in changing the relations between the leaders and the citizens they target, evolving from charisma to authoritarianism. Under these circumstances, the support of the majority of the electorate legitimizes unilateral decisions that damage the desires of the same majority and the trust in the representative democracy. Influencing the vote through generous economic and social programs has become the core of the electoral discourses. An important dimension of populism is the economic populism. The ones who will hold the power, will also have power over the resources allocation. Thus, the national interest can be replaced with the personal interest of some social categories that can also influence subsidiary categories of citizens. Therefore, the political populism is justified by the cultural populism, with emphasis on the ethnicity issue and the access to economic resources (only certain categories are entitled to access these limited resources, the rest of categories are considered inappropriate). The mimicry of representative democracy will bring the denial of some fundamental values of democracy: tolerance, fight against racism, equal opportunities etc. In the name of general welfare, the charismatic leadership leads to authoritarianism within deeply divided societies, which are affected by economic and social inequalities in uncertain times which are considered to be threatening, especially regarding the resources.
Aim of the study. Our research aims at bringing forward the relation between populism and leadership, and emphasizing the evolutions of populism in the political discourses towards legitimization of economic and cultural populism.
Keywords: populist discourse, economic populism, charismatic leadership, authoritarian leadership, reprezentative democracy