Interview #31 – The Contagious Effect of the Radical Right

In this interview, Tarik Abou-Chadi explains that when radical right parties are successful (and especially when they enter parliament), mainstream parties shift toward a more anti-immigrant position. This is hardly surprising. However, according to his studies, this is a totally counterproductive move, and established parties should not go in pursuit of anti-immigration discourses because that would make them lose votes. If there is an “original” nativist and anti-immigration party, why voting an imitation?

Moreover, he claims that the shift toward more anti-immigrant positions of established parties that we have witnessed in the past 20 years is not simply a representation of public opinion, but a strategic move towards the success of radical right parties. In fact, in most Western European countries attitudes toward immigration have become more positive.

In other words: would we have seen the same anti-immigrant shift by established parties had the radical right not been successful? 

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 # 26 – Populism and the future of democracy

A new interview addressing many thorny issues of contemporary democracy. Left-wing populist movements across the globe, malfunctions of representative democracy, the dialectic between people and politicians, horizontal and vertical dimensions of populist mobilisation, the potential democratic renewal inherent in forms of direct democracy, the future of social democracy. This, and much more, in a fluvial chat with Giorgos Katsambekis. 

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Anti-Populist Protests in Serbia: Why Some Social Movements Fail

The day Ratko Mladic was convicted of war crimes and genocide in The Hague, Byeongsun Ahn sent me this piece on the protest movements against the Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić. Vučić, among other things, has been for a long time a big fan of Ratko Mladic (before allegedly changing his mind, as you will see). Byeongsun Ahn presents the development of the protest movements that for a couple of weeks last spring seemed to be successful, and explains why they eventually imploded. From the same author you can also enjoy an article in two parts (here and here) on the links between the Austrian populist FPÖ and its serbian migrant supporters.  Continue reading

Interview #22: Populism in Western Europe ain’t no domino effect

In this long and insightful interview Léonie de Jonge explains why populism is so successful and widespread in certain countries or regions while it is stigmatized or unsuccessful in others; the (few) similarities and (many) differences between the radical right-wing populist parties in Europe; details about cases such as France, Germany, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, or Portugal;  last but not least she warns against the dangers of #schmopulism.

Enjoy the read.

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Interview #20 – 150 years of populism and nativism with Hans-Georg Betz

POP finally interviewed Hans-Georg Betz, one of the major experts of populism. He has been professor of political science at various North American universities (Marquette University, Milwaukee; SAIS, Washington; York University, Toronto), and author of several books on radical right-wing populism and numerous articles and chapters on the radical right, populism, and nativism. Currently he teaches political science at the University of Zurich.

Since more than twenty years prof. Betz studies American and European populism in historical perspective. For this reason POP asked him to link the present situation of intolerance, racism, and new walls, with the roots of nativist and illiberal populism in the 19th century. This is particularly important because it allows to understand under which socio-economic situations populism and nativism become successful, which lessons we can learn from past populist outbursts, and what can be done to contrast them. Enjoy the read.

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Interview #18: Caterina Froio on (neo)fascism, the far right, and the media

POP interviewed Caterina Froio, research fellow at the University of Oxford, to discuss about the legacy of fascism, radical right movements in Europe, the role of the media, the differences between Italy and Germany in dealing with their past, how movements such as CasaPound find space in the media, and much more.

Have a good summer, and 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 #17: Luke March on Left Populism

In this pantagruelic interview, POP discusses with Luke March about left-wing populist actors across Europe, the US and Latin America, the legacy of the Communist past, and the evolution of different families of left parties. We also talk about the Great Recession, the migrants crisis, Brexit, neo-liberalism, and the possible directions for the Left.

luke_marchLuke March is Professor of Post-Soviet and Comparative Politics at Politics and International Relations, University of Edinburgh, and Deputy Director of the Princess Dashkova Russian Centre, also the University of Edinburgh. His main research interests include the politics of the European (radical) Left, Russian domestic and foreign politics, nationalism, populism, radicalism and extremism in Europe and the former Soviet Union. He has published in a range of journals including Party Politics, Comparative European Politics, Europe-Asia Studies and East European Politics. His books include The Communist Party in Post-Soviet Russia (Manchester University Press, 2002), Russia and Islam: State, Society and Radicalism (edited with Roland Dannreuther, Routledge, 2010), Radical Left Parties in Europe (Routledge, 2011) and Europe’s Radical Left. From Marginality to the Mainstream? (edited with Daniel Keith, Rowman and Littlefield 2016).

Enjoy the read.

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Barnum Circus or European Parliament?Between Freedom of Speech and Stigma

The European Parliament is a strange place, we all know it. Politicians who could not find a suitable chair at the national level, Europhobic fellows, but also racist, crusaders and misogynists.  On March 2, Polish conservative politician Janusz Korwin-Mikke insisted that “women must earn less because they are weaker, they are smaller, they are less intelligent. They must earn less. That is all.” Continue reading