“Populism” is a phenomenon, frequently connected with euroscepticism and nationalism, which happens to be widespread all over Europe nowadays. Is “populism” a word that you can easily expand, or does it designate something more specific? This article recalls the origins of “populism” in the 19th century and its development during the 20th century. It then tries to explain “neo-populism” as a structural phenomenon affecting contemporary western democracies, mainly because of globalization and profound changes in the economy. Particularly in Europe, more and more people from the so-called “middle classes” have become afraid of the future. And this is combined with a growing tendency towards issue voting, replacing traditional politics based on relatively stable cleavages. “Neo-populism” is also proteiform, mainly because it is adapted to the peculiarities of individual countries.