“Populism and New Patterns of Political Competition in Western Europe” Edited by Daniele Albertazzi and Davide Vampa has Been Published

Populism in Action’s Principal Investigator Dr. Daniele Albertazzi has edited a book in Routledge’s Extremism & Democracy series with Davide Vampa. Entitled Populism and New Patterns of Political Competition in Western Europe it was published today (14th January 2021).

The purpose of the book is described in the following terms:

This book analyses how party competition has adjusted to the success of populism in Western Europe, whether this is non-populists dealing with their populist competitors, or populists interacting with each other. The volume focuses on Western Europe in the period 2007–2018 and considers both right-wing and left-wing populist parties. It critically assesses the concept and rise of populism, and includes case studies on Austria, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Denmark, Finland, the United Kingdom, Greece, and Italy. The authors apply an original typology of party strategic responses to political competitors, which allows them to map interactions between populist and non-populist parties in different countries. They also assess the links between ideology and policy, the goals of different populist parties, and how achieving power affects these parties. The volume provides important lessons for the study of political competition, particularly in the aftermath of a crisis and, as such, its framework can inform future research in the post-Covid-19 era. This wide-ranging study will appeal to students and scholars of political science interested in populism and political competition; and will appeal to policy makers and politicians from across the political spectrum.

You can order a copy here.

Niko Hatakka Comments on US Capitol Invasion for Finland’s Yle Radio Station

Niko Hatakka – the Populism in Action Project’s Finland focused Research Fellow -was invited onto the national Yle radio station to take part in a discussion about the riotous invasion of the US Capitol Building in Washington DC by supporters of the USA’s outgoing President Donald Trump.

The programme sought to explore “What role does right-wing populism play in Washington chaos?” and was described by Yle in the following terms

The whole world has been following a completely extraordinary intrusion into the U.S. Congress Building and its aftercare. At the heart of it all is the controversy over the outcome of the November presidential election, which Trump’s most radical supporters are now pursuing. In the interview, Deputy Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs, former Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja (sd) and Niko Hatakka from the Center for Parliamentary Research, who studied populism. Edited by Carolus Manninen. In the studio Aki Laine and Marko Miettinen.

The programme is listed here – and is accessible to anybody who is in Finland



Parliament as a Stage – How Germany’s Populists Challenge Established Norms from Within

by Anna-Sophie Heinze – this post originally appeared on EA Worldview

Populist radical right parties are far from “new” challengers – yet dealing with them will remain a difficult balancing act into the future for other parties, media actors, and civil society.

Have a look at Germany.

Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) – only founded in 2013 – has succeeded in where far-right parties in the country (such as the extremist NPD, DVU, or Republicans) had always failed. AfD has entered all 16 state parliaments, the German Bundestag, and the European Parliament. Since then, it has put pressure on the established parties.

All parties have lost voters to the AfD, especially the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) but also the Social Democrats and the Left Party in Eastern Germany. The reasons range from a general loss of trust in political parties to the representation gap of conservative voters since the CDU moved to the left under Chancellor, Angela Merkel, a gap which became particularly apparent over the admissions of refugees into Germany. From a strategic point of view, these parties will strive to win back the trust of voters and strengthen their position of power.

But the AfD is not an “ordinary” challenger party. Instead, it constantly challenges the principles of liberal democracy outside Parliament, whilst its legislators keep breaking formal and informal rules in Parliament, arguing they are the sole representatives of the interests of “the people”.

The AfD often presents itself as the only hardworking party that “sits” in Parliament (in the literal sense of being present during sessions), addressing issues which it says are avoided by the other parties. The party communicates this through pictures in its social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, by showing its MPs alongside empty chairs that should be occupied by the other parties — although, in most cases, these photos are taken before the Parliamentary debates begin.

The AfD is an unpredictable actor in Parliament, illustrated by the voting record of its MPs. For example, in the State Parliament of Saxony-Anhalt in September 2020, the AfD voted in favour of a motion by the Left Party, with whom it shares the opposition benches. The motion gained a surprise majority because many members of the coalition factions (CDU, SPD, Greens) had already left the plenary hall. Similarly, the AfD surprisingly voted for Thomas Kemmerich (FDP) as Minister President of Thuringia at the start of 2020, causing outcry both nationally and internationally.

With this strategy, the AfD clearly challenges the rules that have shaped Parliamentary practice in Germany. For instance, much legislative work takes place in committees and not during plenaries. This means that, in the plenary sessions, the parties vote on compromises that have been reached before, while maintaining the majority balance between government and opposition.

However, the AfD barely engages in committee work, instead using Parliament as a stage. In the chamber, it tries to provoke divisive debates with strong rhetoric and provocation. It then depicts itself as the “victim” of the corrupt “old parties” when they react. This is sometimes conveyed to the electorate through edited videos of debates, circulated through social media.

It is difficult for established parties to engage with this type of populist functional logic. If they ignore or exclude the AfD they play into the hands of their anti-establishment mobilisation. However, if they treat the party as a “normal” challenger party, they run the risk of legitimizing and normalizing its positions.

So the established parties have to deal with the issues on which the AfD focuses without being constantly provoked. On the one hand, they must be responsive, solving increasingly complex problems and explaining their decisions in public. On the other, they must try to maintain established parliamentary procedure and political practice, including the boundaries of acceptable political discourse and rhetoric.

It is a challenge for the established parties to counter this trend in Parliament. It will be an even greater challenge as the AfD’s messages spread quickly in the extra-parliamentary sphere.

Populism in Europe and the USA – Webinar Recording

This Webinar took place on October 22, 2020. The main focus of the discussion was how do we understand populist leadership in the US? Is Trump a “populist”? What are the similarities and differences between Trump’s rhetoric and ideology and populists in Europe today (including the UK and Ireland)?

Watch the full webinar here.

Speakers included:

Mick Fealty, Editor of Slugger O’Toole
Dr. Daniele Albertazzi, University of Birmingham
Professor Scott Lucas, University of Birmingham
Professor Daphne Halikiopoulou, University of Reading
Professor Tim Bale, Queen Mary, University of London

The discussion was chaired by Professor Liam Kennedy, Director of UCD Clinton Institute.

PiAP-Clinton Institute Webinar: Comparing Populisms

This post appeared originally on EA Worldview

What can we learn from examining populism across as well as within countries?

The Populism in Action Project’s Dr. Daniele Albertazzi (University of Birmingham) and Dr. Stijn van Kessel (Queen Mary, University of London), joined by Dr. Julien Mercille (University College Dublin), took on the question in a webinar hosted by UCD’s Clinton Institute on October 15.

A video of this event was recorded and can be accessed here.

Dr. van Kessel laid the foundation for the session by setting out PiAP’s methodology and research questions. He began with the assumption, possibly borne out by the experience and practice of “mainstream” parties over the last 50 years, of a move away from the cultivation of extensive and intensive engagement with a mass membership. PiAP’s critique of this model is the demonstration of a mixture of older and newer forms of engagement cultivated and sustained by populist radical right parties in Europe.

Dr. Albertazzi then set out some of PiAP’s key findings so far in Belgium (Flanders), Finland, Italy, and Switzerland, considering the cases of Vlaams Belang, the Finns Party, the League and the Swiss People’s Party respectively.

In each, the representatives interviewed were enthusiastic about building local parties as a key part of strategy and internal culture. While there are noticeable local differences — for instance, the prominence of social media and instant messaging channels like WhatsApp in Italy and Belgium, and the relatively high degree of local autonomy enjoyed by branches of the Swiss People’s Party — each party under study is very good at building participatory organizations with which members want to be involved.

Albertazzi explained the attractive proposition of joining a space where a member can connect with like-minded people to share and discuss political ideas. Aware of this, populist radical right parties have developed effective means to mobilize members, who connect with them via social media or through other channels, into face-to-face activity through formal campaigning activity or social events.

Dr. Mercille complemented PiAP’s work, with the discussion of contemporary Irish politics. He explained why, despite the similarities between Ireland and other Western European countries, a populist radical right party has yet to emerge in the Republic.

There are conditions such as increasing economic insecurity, highly visible wealth inequality, concerns amongst culturally conservative individuals about social change, and a lack of trust in the political system. But Mercille suggested that reasons for the non-emergence of a radical right populist party range from the lack of a charismatic leader to the historic right-leaning duopoly of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, dominant since Irish independence in 1921. If there is a breakdown of this historic alignment, then Ireland might join other European countries with a populist radical right party like those studied by PiAP.