A new interview addressing many thorny issues of contemporary democracy. Left-wing populist movements across the globe, malfunctions of representative democracy, the dialectic between people and politicians, horizontal and vertical dimensions of populist mobilisation, the potential democratic renewal inherent in forms of direct democracy, the future of social democracy. This, and much more, in a fluvial chat with Giorgos Katsambekis.
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?
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