In the hybrid media system, many processes are reforming political communication: popularisation, disintermediation, personalisation, intimisation and of course populism. This study proposes an empirical definition of political communication style with the aim of identifying characteristics of the populist political communication style. Between 2015 and 2016, the Twitter timelines of the main political leaders in Italy were analysed for 16 months. Applying an MCA allowed us to identify two key factors that characterise the communication styles of leaders: (1) communication mode, comparing negative and positive; and (2) communicative focus, comparing personalisation and political/campaign. The intersection of these two factors resulted in four different political communication styles: ‘Engaging’, ‘Intimate’, ‘Champion of the people’ and ‘Man of the street’. The latter two were clearly characterised by the presence of populist ideology fragments and traits, but were not strictly related to the leaders’ ideological positions. This result supports the hypothesis that populist style is less and less connected to the right/left political cleavage, but rather the result of a varied combination of gradations that mix different individual aspects of the leader’s political communication style.
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