Why Scandals are vital in Populist Communication

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

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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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