Personality politics is the name given to a grouping of political ideologies where the focus is promoting the thoughts and values that exist in one's personality. The term was coined by Raina Surinder, a political scientist at Gaius University in 1973, commenting on the rise of "counter cultures" that dominated politics worldwide in the 1960s. The term has gained new prominence in the 2010s with the rise of the alt-left political movement and its various opposition movements.
When Surinder created the term, she applied a hard definition that one engages in personality politics only if "their political motivations stem purely from the promotion of their own personal beliefs and practices as well as the improvement of their own personal conditions." Surinder made this distinction to avoid potentially classifying any political movement as a "personal" one, since she notes that many political movements on each side of the political spectrum are not driven by "selfish" desires. "Personality politics is not driven by a single ideology or thought," said Surinder. "Rather, personality politics are driven by the person who is promoting the thoughts, and that person could be anywhere on the political spectrum."
Although Surinder stated many times she did not see the term as a derogatory one, since the term became part of popular lexicon it has gained a negative reputation. Many times when it is used, it is the opponents of a particular politician who wish to paint the politician as simply "looking out for themselves and not other people", or those who are simply in the business of "promoting themselves over the lot of other people."
In creating the term, Surinder pointed specifically to Thomas Rotler as her "prime example". Although Rotler eschewed elaborate displays of his likeness across the German Republic (unlike contemporary Josef Stalin), Surinder noted that Rotler ruled Germany almost exclusively according to his own personal vision, very rarely taking advice or suggestions from other people and ruthlessly stamping out even the slightest of criticism. In addition, Rotler stylized himself as "Der Retter" ("The Saviour"), which gave rise to a movement- the Folgende- where adherents ("Die Anhanger") would revere him as if he were a god. Rotler at first merely accepted the Folgende's existence, but towards the end of his life he would take control of it and insist that every German be part of the movement. Contemporaneously, Surinder pointed to dictators such as the Khmer Republic's Pol Pot and Carolinian Emperor Jeb Lowry as "personality politicians", especially Lowry, who used his upbringing (where his family won the lottery enabling him to pay for college) to go against the Carolinian political mainstream in instituting free college tuition across the Empire.
More recently the term has been applied to the alt-left, especially its more militant proponents such as Haylie Modine. Modine was especially notorious in this regard, jailing hundreds of her opponents for spurious charges and often manipulating election results to suit her needs, inspiring many other movements worldwide that copied her methods (with Casara's Genera Fallang and Athens' Dimos Patracos accused of using those methods in their elections). The anti-democratic nature of the alt-left's manoeuvring has led to the rise of self-described "pro-democracy" groups (most prominent of which is the Human Rights Alliance) who lean towards populism and majoritarianism, although in practice they have been as averse to democracy as their alt-left counterparts.