“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

Interview #6 – Swiss populism and direct democracy. A talk with Laurent Bernhard


Laurent Bernhard

Last October, the Federal Swiss elections confirmed that the right-wing Swiss People Party (Schweizerische Volkspartei, SVP) is able to understand and express the population’s fears, mainly about issues such as immigration and European integration. POP asked Dr. Laurent Bernhard to discuss the Swiss situation. Dr. Bernhard is a postdoctoral researcher for the NCCR Democracy project “Populist strategies in current election campaigns” together with Prof. Marco Steenbergen. His research interests include direct democracy, comparative political economy, Swiss politics, and political communication.

1) Swiss Federal elections 2015: the Swiss People’s Party (SVP/UDC) obtains almost 30 percent of the votes, its best result ever. From a “European” perspective this may sound astonishing, since one would expect populism to score well in the context of a severe economic crisis, which is not the case for Switzerland. How do you explain this result?

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Poaching populists: is UKIP rising as a phoenix from the ashes of BNP support?

10438765746_e96d4b2bc8_hLaura Mackenzie‘s new article for POP investigates the different results of UKIP and the British National Party over time. What does explain their opposite degrees of normalization and success within the British political landscape?

We are saying to BNP voters, if you are voting BNP because you are frustrated, upset with the change in your community, but you are doing it holding your nose, because you don’t agree with their racist agenda, come and vote for us”. Thus spake Nigel Farage, leader of the UK’s largest populist party, the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), in 2014.

Since then, Farage has claimed to have taken a third of supporters from the populist radical right British National Party (BNP), and his party is enjoying its highest ever level of support since its creation in 1993, having received over 12% of the national vote (nearly 4 million votes) at the general election held on 7th May 2015.  In contrast, the BNP received just over 1,500 votes, down 99.7% since the last general election in 2010.  Is this downward trend in support for the BNP evidence that UKIP has made good on its promises to be the voice of those who are “frustrated [and] upset with the change in [their] community”?  Or has this declining interest merely indicated an inability of the BNP to achieve lasting political and social legitimacy?

The BNP was formed in 1982, based on the principles of the original National Front: national sovereignty; withdrawal from the European Economic Community; a reconfiguration of the British Commonwealth into an association of white ethnic groups; enforced repatriation of non-Europeans; economic nationalism; etc.  The party failed to make any headway throughout the Margaret Thatcher years in the 1980s and early 1990s, with collective support for the far right averaging at approximately 1% during this period.  The party was characterised by an incoherent electoral strategy, contesting elections sporadically and finding support inconsistent at the local level (in 1984, a BNP candidate polled almost 12% of the vote in a council by-election in Sunderland, in the north of England; in contrast, in a by-election in Plymouth in the south in the same year, another candidate received only 15 votes).

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The Future is Now – Freedom and Democracy

Imagine. It is a rainy Tuesday evening. You realize that you wanted to tidy up the attic since a long time. Imagine. You find an old box. You open it, and a huge quantity of paper bobs up. And then you remember: your grandmother always told you that once, in the old times, the newspapers were printed. From your perspective, from a rainy Tuesday evening in the 22nd century, it is pure madness. You are curious, though. You just grab the first on top of the heap.

You open it. A stale smell of dust and ink. Page five. An article about the European Parliament. Yes, you think, you heard of that. Probably from your grandma. You start reading. Continue reading