Centre for Research in Communication and Culture

Events

16 January 2018

Mobilising ‘the people’: The rise of populist nationalism in Europe

Presented By Loughborough University Nationalism Network (LUNN)
  • 9:15-15:10
  • Loughborough University

About this event

Convenors:
Marco Antonsich (Loughborough University)
John Richardson (Loughborough University)
Stijn van Kessel (Queen Mary University of London)

Schedule

9.15 – 9.30

Introduction

Workshop convenors

Part 1: Populism, extremism, Euroscepticism and their impact

9:30 – 10:00

Populism and Unpolitics: Narratives of Conspiracy, Religion and War
Paul Taggart (University of Sussex)

10:00 – 10:30

The mainstream-populist-extremist political spectrum: principled disjunction or volatile continuum?
Aristotle Kallis (Keele University)

10:30 – 10:45

Public Euroscepticism after the 2016 British referendum: Unleashing emotion
Simona Guerra (University of Leicester) 

10:45 – 11:15

Coffee Break

11:00 – 11:45

 

The Populist Politics of Euroscepticism in Times of Crisis
Stijn van Kessel (Queen Mary University); collaborators: Andrea Pirro (Scuola Normale Superiore) and Paul Taggart (University of Sussex) 

12:00 – 13:00

Lunch


Part 2: Populist nationalism in domestic contexts

13:00 – 13:30

 

Is France having a moment?  The 2017 French electoral series and the populist challenge to the Fifth French Republic

Helen Drake (Loughborough University London)

13:40 – 14:00

 

Populist Nationalism in/and Mediatised Politicisation of Anti-Immigration: The Case of the ‘Refugee Crisis’ in Poland

Michał Krzyżanowski (University of Liverpool)

14:00 – 14.30 

When Mainstream Populism Meets the Mainstream Media: the UK News Media and the 2016 EU Referendum

David Deacon, David Smith and John Downey (Loughborough University)

14:30 – 15:00

AFD: Position, opportunity structures and strategies of a new radical right in Germany

Britta Schellenberg (Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich) 

15:00 – 15:10

Closing remarks
Workshop convenors

Abstracts

Populism and Unpolitics: Narratives of Conspiracy, Religion and War
Paul Taggart (University of Sussex)

In this paper I made an argument that populism needs to be considered as being a form of 'unpolitics'. This term is used to differentiate it from anti-politics and being apolitical. Rather the argument is that inherent within populism is a propensity to repudiate politics. The paper then shows how this feature of populism is linked to three tendencies within populism. The first is the propensity for conspiracy theories. The second is the tendency of populism to display a form of politics that has quasi-religious elements such as Manichean worldview and a propensity for charismatic leadership. The third element of populism is an implicit narrative of war that permeates the discourse and worldview.


The mainstream-populist-extremist political spectrum: principled disjunction or volatile continuum?
Aristotle Kallis (Keele University)

‘Mainstreaming’ has been recently used to indicate the level of success that radical right-wing populist parties have had in ushering some of their key ideological themes and arguments into ‘mainstream’ discourse - and in the process normalise, relativise, and detoxify them. While this perspective recognises the relational and increasingly more volatile constitution of so-called ‘mainstream’ politics, it maintains the comforting notion that there exists a fundamental disjunction between mainstream, populist, and extremist cultures. I argue that right-wing populist discourses thrive on the indeterminate ideological space between a ‘normative’ (liberal) mainstream fiction and a more ‘fringe’, aggressive or even violent extremism. By positing their fundamental difference from either, right-wing populists often benefit both from the significant (and largely underestimated) social traction of some of their radical ideas of othering (e.g. targeting Muslims, immigrants, refugees, Roma etc) and from the disaffection of the public with establishment parties. In the process, they also redraw the boundaries of what passes as legitimate political discourse, exposing cracks in the standard mainstream fiction of established parties and their traditional constituencies.

Public Euroscepticism after the 2016 British referendum: Unleashing emotion
Simona Guerra (University of Leicester)

What is Euroscepticism? This presentation will explore how the study of Euroscepticism has changed since the EU fifth enlargement (2004-07) and the recent British referendum. Social learning, interaction and political communication increasingly affect opinions and behaviours. In the run-up to the EU accession referendums in Central and Eastern Europe, studies addressed the role of subjective evaluations (Jasiewicz 2003; Guerra 2013), while a few years ago, commenting on the emergence of anti-politics, Alfio Mastropaolo (2012) suggested using qualitative research to show how individual evaluations lead citizens to take political decisions based on their own, often not drastic, judgements. Recently, Capelos and Exadaktylos (2016) explored how the affective content of Greek media influences attitudes towards European integration through traumatic public events. This analysis introduces Euroscepticism beyond party systems, and explores the narrative on the EU debates at the domestic level. An analysis of original data on the British referendum (23 June 2016) addresses the role of subjective evaluations and emotions on attitudes towards the EU and to what extent these can drive Euroscepticism and behaviours. The ‘Leave’ campaign was successful in evoking citizens’ emotions, and ‘Leave’ voters seem to be more driven by anger, while uncertainty spreads among those who are likely to have voted ‘Remain’, and young people feel both uncertain and anxious. 

The Populist Politics of Euroscepticism in Times of Crisis
Andrea L.P. Pirro (Scuola Normale Superiore); Paul Taggart (University of Sussex); Stijn van Kessel (Queen Mary University of London)

With this project, we set out to investigate and systematically tackle the intersection of populism and Euroscepticism in the face of multiple European crises: the financial and Eurozone crisis, the migrant crisis, and Brexit. The crises have been different in their nature and consequences, and gave rise to socio-economic as well as socio-cultural concerns within member states, in addition to broader questions about the sustainability of the European integration project. Irrespective of their varying nature and impact, we argue that each of these crises has offered opportunities for populist parties, which are defined by their defence of the ‘pure people’ and popular sovereignty against the unscrupulous actions of unresponsive or corrupt elites. (e.g. Mudde, 2004). Not only do such parties mobilise on the basis of real or perceived crises and elite failure, the events in the past decade also lend credence to the Eurosceptic arguments voiced by populist actors on the socio-economic left as well as the culturally conservative right (see Hooghe et al. 2002; de Vries and Edwards 2009). Through a collection of comparative and single-case studies, we aim to contribute to the existing literature on the ‘supply side’ of populist Eurosceptic politics in two ways. First, by ascertaining if and how the ideological contours of Euroscepticism have changed as a result of these crises (i.e. the ‘inward’ aspect). Second, by establishing if and how these discourses have reverberated across the party-political arena, releasing effects in the political process (i.e. the ‘outward’ aspect).

When Mainstream Populism Meets the Mainstream Media: the UK News Media and the 2016 EU Referendum
David Deacon, David Smith and John Downey (Loughborough University)

The outcome of the 2016 EU Referendum in the United Kingdom confounded the expectations of most of those involved in the campaign and flew in the face of prevailing expert opinion. A core argument of this presentation will be that communicative populism was a central factor behind the majority public vote for the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union. In the presentation we will examine the editorial responses of the UK news media to the ‘thick populism’ adopted by the Leave campaign as the vote neared. We will demonstrate that while some news organisations acted in what might be termed a collaborative manner, others were highly critical and inclined to an ‘active containment’ response. Nevertheless, all news media shared a recognition of the news value of Leave’s change of strategy and in doing so gave considerable impetus to the mainstreaming of populism in the 2016 EU Referendum.

Is France having a moment? The 2017 French electoral series and the populist challenge to the Fifth French Republic
Helen Drake (Loughborough University London)

In 2017 and at the end of an electoral marathon stretching across two years, France elected a fresh-faced young and disruptive president, Emmanuel Macron. In doing so, populist candidates on the right and left of the political spectrum were defeated, and mainstream parties left in disarray. In this paper we explore the Macron phenomenon from the perspectives of party politics, political leadership, populism and disruption, all in the context of contemporary France.

Populist Nationalism in/and Mediatised Politicisation of Anti-Immigration: The Case of the ‘Refugee Crisis’ in Poland
Michał Krzyżanowski (University of Liverpool)

My presentation looks at the dynamics of mediatised politicisation of anti-immigration as one of the central components of political communication and behaviour of contemporary European populist-nationalist parties. I mainly focus on the political language of the Polish populist-nationalist “Law and Justice” (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość / PiS), i.e. currently Poland’s only/main government party. I concentrate on the period from the second half of 2015 onwards when PiS’ orchestrated political communication strategy has brought a very significant “discursive shift” (Krzyżanowski 2013a, 2017) in the Polish public sphere that resulted in an outright eruption of nationalist discourses of discrimination and hate, esp. towards the (potentially) incoming refugees and asylum seekers. Using critical discourse studies of right-wing populism (Krzyżanowski 2012, 2013b; Krzyżanowski & Ledin 2017; Krzyżanowski & Wodak 2009), I show how the previously-absent anti-immigration agenda (Krzyżanowski 2014) was established and eventually became conflated with other types of discriminatory rhetoric such as e.g. Polish historical anti-Semitism. I point to, inter alia, a strong shift to Islamophobia and other discursive patterns incl. right-wing discourses of Euro-scepticism, anti-internationalism (e.g. anti-German rhetoric), and (quasi) political Catholicism (for details see Krzyżanowski 2017). I show how all those have been effectively combined to radically argue against incoming migrants and refugees as ‘naturally’ non-belonging in Poland and the wider Europe. I also argue that, although to a large extent purely imaginary, those arguments have, just like elsewhere in CEE and wider Europe, effectively led to ‘the move to the right’ as well as to the ensuing ‘normalisation’ (Link 2014; Krzyżanowski & Ledin 2017; Wodak 2015; Wodak & Krzyżanowski 2017) of racist and discriminatory language in wider Polish politics and the public sphere.

AFD: Position, opportunity structures and strategies of a new radical right in Germany
Britta Schellenberg (Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich, Germany)

The presentation explores how the radical right has successfully repositioned itself in the public space and for the first time since the Weimar Republic managed to enter the German Federal Parliament. At the federal elections in September 2017 the young right-wing radical party, AfD, gained 12,6%. In a first step, themes and issues of the AFD are highlighted and examples are given to illustrate how its politicians initiate public debates. Then the outcome of recent elections and voter approval is scrutinized: Where are the strongholds of the AfD and who are its voters, but also, where is the party particularly weak? Which patterns concerning the local or regional social and political reality, historical narratives or contemporary political frames do we see? Finally, the electoral results of other political parties are shown and their reaction to the AfD and more in general to ethnic-nationalist discourse are tested.