Budapest Corvinus University, Hungary
The key messages of this paper can be summarized in three statements: First, the new wave of populism, as neopopulism, has been shaped in the current age of information society first of all in the terms of ‘cultural’ globalization as identity politics. Second, since the outbreak of global crisis in the late 2000s there has been an ‘alienation’ between the Core and the Periphery in the EU with very marked features in the ‘East’, in New Member States as widespread disappointment of populations with the results of EU membership. Third, Poland and Hungary have been pioneering in this process of divergence from the EU mainstream and in the emergence of the anti-EU populist elites, so they represent the classical case of Eupopulism in the Eastern periphery in the EU. Thus, this paper focuses on the specificity of neopopulism in NMS within the EU first of all by analysing the emergence of authoritarian populism in Poland and Hungary.
Global populist eruption; Eupopulism; hard and soft populism; deconsolidation.
Marius Guderjan, Adrian Wilding
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany
On 24 June 2016, a narrow majority of citizens of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, a decision which has exposed deep divisions in British society. This article analyses the extent to which the campaign to leave the EU and its aftermath can be explained in terms of existing definitions of ‘populism’. It distinguishes between a ‘thin’ and ‘thick’ ideology of populism. Whereas the ‘thin’ ideology refers to a specific political method or style, one which claims to represent the ‘true people’ against a ruling elite, the ‘thick’ ideology focuses on substantial ideological elements, e.g. authoritarian and nationalist worldviews. The paper demonstrates that the Brexit campaign has been dominated by exclusive, right-wing populist ideas. In order to understand the appeal of populist parties and movements in the UK, the paper explores the multi-layered factors that have led to widespread support for the anti-European and anti-immigration politics. It argues that a mix of economic, political and cultural disenfranchisement is a root cause of the vote for Brexit. In this light, the Brexit rhetoric of ‘taking back control’ can be interpreted as a (problematic) attempt to overcome disenfranchisement.
United Kingdom; Brexit; UKIP; populism; disenfranchisement; ideology.
European University Institute, Italy
This essay makes another attempt to clarify the concept of populism and to discuss its causes and consequences. It argues that, at its core, the concept of populism refers to an ‘ideology,’ i.e. a set of beliefs about how democracy works and how it ought to work. It links this core concept to other, related notions of populism, which it considers complementary rather than competing. Given its intimate links to the promises of democracy, populism thrives in times of political and economic crises. In addition, it is facilitated by the way the media operate in contemporary democracies. The political crisis provides an opportunity for populists to point to the broken promises of democracy and to mobilize in the name of ‘the people’ who have gone unrepresented by the mainstream political forces. Finally, the electoral mobilization by populists may have a corrective democratic effect, and populists in power do not seem to put democracy in danger as long as they have to cooperate in coalition governments with mainstream parties which are electorally more important. It is in (quasi)majoritarian systems where populists gain power as the dominant force that they pose a threat to liberal democracy.
Populism; concepts; crisis of representation; mediatization; populists in power; ideology; political strategy; communication strategy.
Wolfgang Merkel, Felix Scholl
Humboldt-University Berlin, Germany
Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg, Germany
The emergence and persistence of right-wing populist parties (RWPs) in almost all advanced democracies in Eastern Europe, Western Europe, and across the Atlantic is a result of a new cleavage that revolves around the question of how open borders should be for goods, services, capital, migrants, refugees, human rights, and the transfer of political power to supranational institutions: Cosmopolitans opt for opening the nation states’ borders, while communitarians prefer more closed and con- trolled borders in a broader sense. An economic and cultural-discursive representation gap on the communitarian side allowed RWPs to enter the political stage along this cleavage. The composition of their electorate, their thematic focus and their discourse support our hypothesis. We demonstrate that whether RWPs pose a danger for democracy crucially depends on whether they are in government or opposition and whether the context is that of well-established or less consolidated democracies. We also discuss whether polarization is deemed harmful to democracy. RWPs can indeed have a positive impact on a re-intensified political participation. However, if the illiberalism of RWPs dominates policies, politics, and the political discourse in less consolidated democracies, such as in Hungary and Poland, liberal democracy is in danger.
Cleavage; right-wing populism; communitarianism; cosmopolitanism; illiberal democracy; discourse.