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 party. Continue reading

Interview #7 – A talk with Cas Mudde on American and European Populism

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Trump Tower in Chicago – April 2016

POP interviewed Prof. Cas Mudde about populism in the US and Europe, the presence (or rather absence) of populism in the current American Presidential campaign, and the conditions triggering different types of populism in the Old continent.

Are “the people” and “the elites” relevant categories in the discourses articulated by Trump and Sanders?

The economic crisis, combined with terrorist threats and a constant flow of migrants create a widespread fear among the European electorate: which political actors benefit from this situation?

These and other issues on the interview with Prof. Mudde.

Enjoy…

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To break, or not to break? Brexit and the future of the UK’s relationship with Europe #2

This is the second part of Laura MacKenzie’s article about Brexit. In the first episode she presented the two opposing factions and the key political figures. Today she analyses the key arguments of the leave and remain campaigns. In the meantime, former London mayor Boris Johnson declared that the EU – as well as Hitler and Napoleon – is trying to unify Europe under a superstate and to bring it back to the golden age of the Romans.

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To break, or not to break? That is the question #1

Politics is ultimately a numbers game, and the figures just don’t add up [1]

On 23 June, British voters will go to the polls to solve a very large maths problem.  The United Kingdom is currently in a battle over its identity as a European nation, and both sides of the debate are clamouring for attention and support.  However, no matter how convincing the arguments; no matter how witty the speeches; no matter which celebrities sign up to which campaign; the ‘Brexit’ battle will, ultimately, be won on numbers.

When faced with the question on the ballot paper, “should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?” voters will respond by asking their own question:  do the figures add up?

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Donald Trump: the Perfect President for the Divided States of Europe?

On March 13th the elections in three German regions brought once again on the table a fundamental question about Europe: will we be able to overcome our fears and open our political-economic project also to those that so far have been excluded? Or will we rather entrench ourselves in our fortress?

It is time to define our collective identity. And it is time to consider that the way we are doing it now will be marked in history books as one of the biggest European shames.

In other words: let’s imagine that we have to elect a supreme leader for Europe in 2017. Let’s assume Donald Trump would participate. Would he win the elections? Continue reading

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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Re-Branding Right-Wing Politics #2 – FPÖ between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Serbian migrants

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Daily Star. October 2008.

(See here the first part of the reportage. Happy new year and enjoy the first POP’s article in 2016. The schedule for the next months is pretty dense; we will take you into the very heart of contemporary populism. Follow POP on #Twitter and spread the word!).

Serbians as Well-Integrated Model Migrants

An anti-immigration party longing for migrants’ votes might sound contradictory to many, but this ‘search’ is an extension of the rhetoric of good and bad foreigners. A closer look at FPÖ’s position on Balkan politics makes this strange alliance between an anti-immigration party and Serbian migrants a little clearer. The current situation of the Balkans is an indicator of the multicultural fantasy, as its official party program writes, that descends from EU politics, whose capital infusion and political support for the central government of Bosnia-Herzegovina promote further Islamization of the Balkans. The geopolitical importance of Serbia, here, consists in its role as a buffer state between Central Europe and the Southern Balkan Peninsula; the border between Christendom and Islam. In the eyes of the ‘Freedomite’ politics, Serbia, the vanguard of the Occident in the conflict-ridden Balkans, is an example of the tragic failure of multiculturalism propagated by the European Union. Continue reading

Re-Branding Right-Wing Politics: The Freedom Party of Austria and their Serbian Migrant Supporters

Byeongsun Ahn

Byeongsung Ahn

This article, written by Byeongsun Ahn, PhD Student at the Department of Sociology of the University of Vienna, focuses on a paradoxical element of contemporary populism: the distinction between “good” and “bad” migrants. In particular, Byeongsun Ahn exposes the Austrian case, and explains why FPÖ politicians now make frequent appearances in Serbian restaurants and nightclubs, where they pose in front of Ćevapčići and dance Turbo-Folk. This is the first half of Ahn’s reportage.

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“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

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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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