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“A Piece of Trash of the Worst Cabinet Ever”. The Rhetorical Use of Exaggeration by the Dutch Populist ‘Party for Freedom (PVV)’

Lieuwe Kalkhoven

Abstract


Abstract

It is assumable that rhetorical exaggeration, also known as hyperbole, is one of these important rhetorical features that suites the deviant populist style. In order to test this hypothesis, we use the political context of the Dutch House of Parliaments and focus again on the populist politician Geert Wilders, but we include also other politicians of his party PVV. The degree of hyperbolic language is compared to other parties in the parliament in the Netherlands. We use methods based in earlier research of hyperbole (McCarthy and Carter, 2004; Cano Mora, 2009) that enables to identify and to analyse this rhetorical device. The analysis is based on a representative research sample (N > 160,000 words) of political language in Dutch parliamentary debates, between 2006 to 2013. Results show an extraordinary high use of hyperbole by members of the Dutch populist party PVV, which is nearly twice as high as the average, and noticeably are the recurring intense and exclusively hyperbolic interventions in the political debates. The findings confirm the hypothesis that hyperbole fits the typical figurative, exaggerated and aggressive populist discourse style. Geert Wilders and his party PVV clearly deviates from other politicians with a distinctive hyperbolic rhetoric: his metaphorical exaggeration, the lack of nuance, the hyperbolic references to populist principles and the anti-political discourse, resemble the prototypical style of populists.

Keywords: hyperbole, rhetorical exaggeration, Geert Wilders, parliamentary debates, Dutch politics, populism

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Bibliography: Kalkhoven, Lieuwe: “A Piece of Trash of the Worst Cabinet Ever”. The Rhetorical Use of Exaggeration by the Dutch Populist ‘Party for Freedom (PVV)’, PCS, 1-2-2015, pp. 51-70. https://doi.org/10.3224/pcs.v6i1-2.05


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