Populist actors use an emotional, dramatized and colloquial language, and for this reason their messages are more convincing. Or, at least, that is what many commentators have been arguing for quite some time. In her research, Dominique Wirz* found out that this is actually the case. In this interview she explains that populist messages are very likely to trigger emotions – negative emotions towards the bad people and positive emotions towards the good people. Moreover, since negative emotions are unpleasant, people feel a strong need for immediate solutions and this seems to makes populist appeals especially persuasive.
Populism was the Cambridge Dictionary word of 2017 (although some argue that nativism should have been the real word of the year). The attention of public opinion about populism keeps rising, and many articles are published every day (this article appeared on Jacobin Magazine and has originated a lively debate on Twitter). The last months have been full of topics to discuss, interviews, and articles from all over the world, while in parallel this small blog experienced its peak in terms of traffic. It has been a deeply challenging and rewarding experience.
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.
We’re all supposed to be praising Beata Szydło for the grace with which she has accepted her defenestration, but I remember her disgusting exploitation of terrorist attacks in the UK to argue in favour of her government’s domestic policies. Not easy to forget.
— Ben Stanley (@BDStanley) 8 dicembre 2017
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
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
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.
POP proposes its third double interview. In case you missed them, the first two discussed populism in Latin America and the relevance of the Dutch case. This time Daniel Bischof and Roman Senninger present their recently published paper on the link between populism and a simple language.
POP interviewed Nicole Curato. We discussed about Rodrigo Duterte, penal populism in the Philippines, the reasons behind the success of an extremely controversial politician and his use of a populist rhetoric, how he rose to power and how he is trying to maintain it despite the critiques from all over the world.
Nicole Curato (@NicoleCurato on Twitter) is an Australian Research Council Research Fellow at the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance at the University of Canberra. She is the editor of the book The Duterte Reader – the first book about the strongman’s rise to power.
Enjoy the read.
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.
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.
Nadia 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.
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…