Interview #33 – Nationalism and Populism between culture and economy

In this interview, Dr. Daphne Halikiopoulou illustrates the common denominator of nationalist and populist political actors such as Donald Trump, Alternative for Germany, and Rassemblement National: they draw on two sets of conflict lines, first between the ‘pure people’ against ‘the corrupt elites’ and second between the in-group and the out-group.

However, this does not mean that nationalism and populism are the same thing: populism, because of its ‘chameleon-like’ nature, can be associated with ideologies which have nothing to do with nationalism, while nationalism does not have to be necessariy associated to a populist rhetoric.

Moreover, while the traditional far right parties that adopt ethnic nationalism (i.e. biological justifications of national inclusion) are electorally marginalized in Western Europe, ‘civic nationalism’ is much more rewarding in electoral terms because it sheds the stigma of fascism by putting forward ideological justifications of national inclusion and emphasizing  values, democratic institutions and liberal cultures. Continue reading

Trump and Brexit Vs working class – A double Interview

In this double interview, Aurelien Mondon and Aaron Winter look at Brexit and Trump as *white* phenomena rather than working class revolts. They argue that the ‘working class’ narrative grew in recent years and it has uncritically suggested that the far right has become predominantly supported by the working class, while this is not the case. The first step in the creation of this narrative has been to ignore the role of abstention in the working class. In turn, the working class has become increasingly represented as the white working class, ignoring its diversity. Therefore, Mondon and Winter claim, those pushing these agendas are not only legitimising racist ideas, but also encouraging classism in an extremely condescending manner. This also obscures that in both cases (Trump’s election and Brexit), the bulk of the reactionary vote comes from the wealthier parts of the population.

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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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Populism in Power: Law & Justice vs liberal democracy

What happens to a country when a populist party rules? What happens to liberal democracy when the populist idea of power is implemented? Bartek Pytlas illustrates the case of Poland to answer these questions, and examines the rhetoric toolbox used by the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) in order to control the state media, the Constitutional Court, and to fight against the European institutions.

As well as Orbán in Hungary, the PiS government is undermining checks and balances, minority protections, and in general all the mechanisms that make liberal democracy *liberal*. All of this, while being part of the European Union (the same that five years ago won the Nobel prize for peace) and going against all its most important principles.

Enjoy the read. Continue reading

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 #19 Nadia Urbinati – The roots of #Charlottesville, techno-populism, and the end of World War II

The day after #Charlottesville, POP interviewed Nadia Urbinati. After one hour on the phone, it was clear that the quantity and quality of issues discussed, topics explored, and cases mentioned, came to form an extended and vivid portrait of modern populism in the US and its historical roots, the populistization of politics in Easter Europe, the advent of techno-populism, the future of Italian democracy, post-colonial populism in Latin America, and racism all over the world.

nadiaNadia Urbinati teaches Political Theory at the Department of Political Science, Columbia University.  She published extensively on democratic theory, representative government and the interpretations of democracy. Her most recent book is Democracy Disfigured: Opinion, Truth and the People (Harvard University Press 2014).

Enjoy the read.

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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 partyContinue reading

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