Why Scandals are vital in Populist Communication

shengen nein

SVP poster against Schengen, 2006. Security and freedom would get lost if Switzerland remains in the Schengen area.

Today Dr. André Haller explores a peculiar populist communication strategy: self-scandalization. While he keeps updating POP about the controversial positions of the anti-Muslim group PEGIDA, he also explains us how populist parties and movement create, exploits and take advantage of manufactured political scandals.

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“The worst intellectual instigator since Goebbels!”

André Haller

Dr. André Haller

This is the first article of a series about PEGIDA’s controversial messages. It is written by Dr. André Haller, who works at the Institute for Communication Science at University of Bamberg, Germany.

He will follow for POP the activities and communication strategies of PEGIDA. For an overview about the Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident, see his article published in November 2015. Continue reading

#HenrietteReker – Something is rotting in Germany (and we are not talking about Volkswagen)

Election Poster 2015

Election Poster 2015

Saturday 18th October 2015, Henriette Reker – a mayor-candidate of Cologne – was stabbed several times during a pre-election party. Reker was not only an independent – yet very promising – candidate but she also used to be in charge of the local accommodation of refugees in Cologne. Even though she and four other persons got severely injured, she won the election the next day.

So what’s the story behind the attack? The offender claims Reker’s refugee policy to be the cause: “By killing her, I wanted to do Germany a favor”. Now we know that his motives were xenophobic, and that he was connected to a – nowadays forbidden – right-wing extremist organization called Liberal German Worker’s Party[1].

An attempted murder motivated by someone’s refugee policy must be a meaningful wake-up call for Germany. So far, this gesture remained an isolated incident. However it is very important to ask: how did we come to this? Continue reading

How German right- wing parties always sabotage themselves – the example of the AfD

Bild_TWolfTanja Wolf is the author of this post for POP. Her research interests concern the right-wing parties in Europe as well as right-wing populism and extremism. She also studies left-wing propaganda, especially in former socialist or communist states. She works at the Julius-Maximilians-Universität in Würzburg, Germany.

In this article she investigates the case of Alternative für Deutschland and its peculiarity when compared with traditional right-wing parties in Germany.

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#Blockupy ECB – When The Wind Blows

carnivalWhat is going on in Germany? The country which is supposed to lead European’s economy is plagued by anti-Muslim movements like Pegida, several important strikes (the last one from the Lufthansa pilots), and today the Blockupy movement protests in Frankfurt. They demonstrate against the inauguration of the headquarters of the European Central Bank, hosted in the new Eurotower.

Blockupy is an anti-capitalist network including around 90 organizations from several European countries, showing interesting similitudes of style and content with the protests against the WTO in Seattle in 1999.

With a populist touch, they want to ”draw attention to ECB policies which, they say, have favored the rich over the poor, the banks over the people, the creditor class over debtors – policies that have amounted to bailing out irresponsible financiers at the expense of ordinary citizens”.

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It’s a matter of sense of humour

No-5-1948-by-Jackson-PollockIt is really hard to understand Occupy Wall Street if you never heard of the French Revolution. It is equally unlikely to appreciate Jackson Pollock if you are not familiar with Kandinsky and the other expressionists. You may even occur in the same mistake of the critic Robert Coates, who once mocked a number of Pollock’s works as “mere unorganized explosions of random energy, and therefore meaningless”.

All in all, however, you don’t need to be a historian or an art critic in order to decrypt the reality around you. There is a more general rule you can always apply: the world can be divided in two big categories – people who have a certain sense of humour, and those who take themselves too seriously.

You can understand the relationship between the Islamic State and Pegida, via Nigel Farage, if you bear in mind this distinction.

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