This article focuses on the populist strategy of the Turkish Justice and Development Party between the 2007 presidential election, when Turkish politics experienced an impasse, and the 2010 referendum over the constitutional amendments. As a means of analysing populism, the symptomatic approach is preferred over other theoretical perspectives, including empiricism and historicism. An analysis of the discourse articulated by Prime Minister Erdoğan leads us to the conclusion that he has continually appealed to the masses with an anti-institutional rhetoric that divides society into ‘the people’ and ‘the elite’, thereby fulfilling the criteria of populism according to the symptomatic approach.