The article explores the populist take on international relations via states’ foreign policy. It focuses on Central European EU member states where populists have become a major political force. The article builds on a government-preferences-based approach by combining the international system level with the party competition perspective. Mapping of populist types via their positioning on selected foreign policy issues and impact of the party programme on election results shows growing polarisation within the group of populists and their limited success outside of migration policy area. While confirming the existing literature on systemic constraints and business-as-usual politics, the results also reveal the rising impact of systemic factors, such as growing instability and crises in the external environment on populist parties’ polarization and election success.