2015 seemed like the perfect year for populist actors. All over the world more or less populist discourses were spread among the public opinion. In 2016 the diffusion of populism reached new and unexpected peaks. What changed in the diffusion and perception of populism? Essentially, there are three lessons we can learn. Continue reading
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.
— The Economist (@TheEconomist) May 17, 2016
Politics is ultimately a numbers game, and the figures just don’t add up 
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?
Latest polls (Ipsos-MORI) suggest 25% “may change mind” ahead of UK-EU referendum. The issues they say might do it-> pic.twitter.com/b4UEGTNPKp
— Matthew Goodwin (@GoodwinMJ) May 12, 2016
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.
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?
We serve fresh populism, of all types.
Hot summer in Europe. Tsipras asked the Greek people to refuse the conditions of the Troika – and the Greek people answered “oxi”, which is translated as “no” but in this case means “yes Alexis, we’re still with you”; Varoufakis announced – first via Blog and then in T-shirt, cool as usual – that he resigns from his position as Minister in order to help Tsipras with the negotiations; Spain approved a package of measures unprecedented during its democratic history, limiting freedom of expression and public protest; Hungary is preparing to build yet another wall of this Europe under siege, to halt the advance of the refugees on the eastern front.
The Greek referendum marked a watershed in the history of Europe, with consequences that will be fully understood probably in the next decades. Now it’s too early to draw conclusions. The words of Varoufakis from his blog are probably the best way to reflect on what happened: “The superhuman effort to honour the brave people of Greece, and the famous OXI (NO) that they granted to democrats the world over, is just beginning.”
Today, New Zealand counts seven sheep for every person, but the proportion was 20/1 in 1983. Why mentioning such a trivial statistic? Because the populist guys – those who share the concerns of the man of the street – will explain the phenomenon telling us that some conspiracy lurks in the background, maybe some international corporation is stealing sheep in order to manipulate the oil price through the wool price, and the people must know where the sheep have gone. They have the right to know. OK, maybe I am not fair: some of these populist guys are probably smarter than this, or less practical, but this point will become clearer later on.