Interview #32: Media Opportunity Structures for Populism

In this interview, Nicole Ernst argues that while Twitter and Facebook are now essential elements of the political sphere, traditional media are not dead an it would be a mistake to overestimate the influence of social media.

On the other hand, social media are definitely a populist paradise (Facebook more than Twitter). Indeed, they allow politicians to create a connection with the people by sharing elements of their private lives, emotions, and feelings. Moreover, they provide a selective exposure that reinforces the populist beliefs of the public, and by criticizing the mainstream media as servants of the ruling elites they create a sense of community.  

Mainstream media give space to populist content generated on social media because populist messages are often controversial, emotion-evoking, dubious, and polarizing. Populist actors also tend to take extreme positions on hotly debated issues, while journalists pay attention to what populist politicians argue on other media channels – especially on social media – and incorporate those arguments into their newspaper articles. This means that populist politicians do not use social media solely to bypass traditional news media but above all to influence the news media agenda with their posts and tweets.

This interview completes a trilogy on the relationship between populism and the media. The first —with Dominique Wirz— on populism and emotions is here, while the second on populist citizens and their media diet —with Anne Schulz— is here.

Enjoy the read.

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Gender as a Rhetorical Tool for Strengthening Illiberal Democracy in Hungary

In this article, Bianka Vida explains how the Hungarian government uses gender as a rhetorical tool to strengthen its illiberal regime. The so-called “gender theory” is a threat to any right-wing populist government, including Fidesz in Hungary. Starting from the Hungarian example, Vida illustrates how gender is exploited by right-wing political parties to expand illiberal democracy. What is the role of the EU in this illiberal transformation, and what will be the future of Universities proposing courses on gender studies?

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Interview #29 – Populist Citizens & The Media

Anne Schulz investigates the relationship between populist citizens and the media. People with strong populist beliefs reject the media as an enemy because they seem to think that the media conspire together with the political elites. They mainly rely on soft news media and commercial TV. Moreover, populist citizens are strongly projecting their opinion onto public opinion. In other words, they believe that everybody else share their views. Finally: guess which social madia they prefer between Facebook and Twitter?

This, and much more, in a new interview. Enjoy.

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The 5 Star Movement is neither left-wing nor antifascist

I know that the right-left political spectrum is slippery. Most people consider it dead and buried. End of history, post-ideological world, and whatnot.

I know that when a politician tells you “we are neither right nor left, just #populist” it gets even more confusing .

I know the face people make when I say that (on the cultural dimension and therefore by synecdoche) the 5 Star Movement is a right-wing party. Continue reading

Interview #16 with Levi Littvay: Conspiracies, Fake News and Populism

In this interview POP investigates the connection between populism and conspiracy theories. It was written during the first weeks of the conflict in Budapest between academic freedom, liberalism, and democracy on the one hand, and repression, authoritarianism, and (veiled ?) Antisemitism on the other hand. The Central European University had to start a fight for its own survival as well as for the principle of academic freedom, while the European institutions and the other member countries mainly observed, powerless. This interview is about populism and conspiracy theories, and it can be read also in the light of the shameful events that are affecting the Central European University, where Levente Littvay is Associate Professor of Political Science.

Maybe, after having read the interview it will be clearer how a populist leader can motivate his decision to close down an independent University.

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