Daniele Albertazzi Quoted in the Wall Street Journal

On 2nd January 2022 our Principal Investigator Prof. Daniele Albertazzi was quoted in the article “Italy’s Embattled Berlusconi Eyes the Presidency, His Biggest Prize Yet” written for The Wall Street Journal by Eric Sylvers.

Commenting on Silvio Berlusconi’s prospects Prof. Albertazzi reflected:

“I’m sceptical Berlusconi can pull this off, but it is very difficult to guess with him because he defies all predictions… However the race for the presidency goes, this won’t be the political end of Berlusconi, the end will come when Berlusconi is underground.”

Read the article in full here.

Populism in Action in Researchers Quoted in Foreign Policy Magazine

Populism in Action’s Co-Investigator Dr. Stijn van Kessel and former Italy focused Research Fellow Dr. Mattia Zulianello were quoted in “For Europe’s Far Right, Vaccine Skepticism Is a Trap” an article published online by Foreign Policy magazine written by Michele Barbero.

Dr. van Kessel explained that political discussion around COVID-19:

“is not really playing to their strengths,”… “They reduce the salience of typical radical right issues such as immigration and cultural change. Generally speaking, this isn’t good news for them.”

Dr. Zulianello outlined how measures to tackle COVID-19 exacerbate tensions in Italy’s League. He said that Matteo Salvini:

“has the problem of holding together two different Leagues”

While for the German AfD:

“[vaccine scepticism has proven] a way to close ranks,”

The article can be read in full here.

Right Wing Populism in Europe: The New Normal – Ideas on Europe

On 19th November 2021 our Principal Investigator Prof. Daniele Albertazzi took part in an interview with EU!Radio – as part of a UACES initiative called “Ideas of Europe” – in which he discussed the idea of populism as a “new normal” in European politics. A transcript of the interview can be read below, whilst the recording can be accessed here.

Interviewer: Daniele, you say that right-wing populism in Europe is “the new normal”. Can I ask you why you have picked such a provocative title?

Prof. Albertazzi: Mainly because the world has changed around us. Many media outlets – and some academics – keep defining European right wing populist parties as ‘challengers’ or ‘outsiders’. They appear to have taken no notice of what has happened in the last two decades in Europe – well before one Donald Trump even started campaigning ….

Interviewer: However, if we consider the language that populists use to communicate with voters, you will agree that they do not sound necessarily ‘mainstream’…

Prof. Albertazzi: Let’s leave aside for a moment whether you and I are convinced by their proposals and their communication.

Let’s rather start with the facts: right wing populists have been very successful in electoral terms in many contexts, and it is now common for them to be invited to join government coalitions (see the Swiss, Italian, Austrian, Dutch, Norwegian and Finnish cases, to cite just a few). Not only that, but they are increasingly managing to capture the government on their own, like in Hungary and Poland.

And if this were not enough, in many countries they have had a substantial media presence for some time now and very much influence the public agenda. This has contributed to triggering processes of co-optation of their ideas by their non-populist competitors (just think of the current primaries in France!).

In other words, it is apparent that many right-wing populist parties should now be considered part of the mainstream, too. They are indeed “the new normal”.

Interviewer: Isn’t it risky, though, to “normalise” parties that many people see as racist, or incompatible with liberal democracy, and certainly contributing to the increasing polarisation of politics?

Prof. Albertazzi: We are not advocating this or that outcome, we are simply taking stock of what has happened in the last two decades. And, of course, as I have argued in a book co-edited with Davide Vampa, Populism and New Patterns of Political Competition in Western Europeright-wing populists are still evolving at great speed, and it is important to recognise the many differences that there are between them, too.

This is also true when we think of the “normalisation” of these parties.

The Swiss People’s Party, the Austrian Freedom Party and the Italian Lega were already ‘established populists’ taking part in government coalitions before the financial crisis of 2007.

The Finns party moved from the status of ‘challenger’ to that of ‘established’ by entering governments after the crisis.

The Party for Freedom in the Netherlands and the Danish People’s party moved towards being ‘established’, thanks to their backing of minority governments

At the same time, UKIP, the German AfD, Flemish Interest in Belgium and the RN in France have all gone on being ostracised by other parties at the national level. So, I am not saying that right wing populists are the ‘new normal’ everywhere, in this sense the title was a little provocative. But this is the direction of travel, and it is important to analyse what is happening, like it or not.

Interviewer: Perhaps the most important aspect of all this is the extent to which the public debate co-opts their proposals, and even their language, as you mentioned earlier on?

Prof. Albertazzi: You have hit the nail on the head. How do we assess the impact of a political party?

In some contexts, electoral success may be paramount, but we can also simply focus on their policies.

In this sense, one could argue that UKIP has been the most successful right wing populist party in Western Europe, since it contributed to getting the UK out of the EU.

Equally, we see policies on immigration and asylum being tightened across the continent, not just by the populist right but also by the so-called “mainstream” parties, left and right, that are trying to prevent their populist competitors from accessing government. I always mention the case of the supposedly centre-left Italian Democratic Party, whose minister Minniti was the first to sign agreements with the Libyan authorities to stop potential asylum seekers from crossing the Mediterranean sea. It led to thousands of them being incarcerated and tortured in Libyan prisons after being “captured”, thanks to Italian money and support.

Right-wing populists may not be the “new normal” everywhere, but their impact on others changes what is perceived as “normal”.

Interviewer: Thank you very much, Daniele, for sharing with us the big picture produced by your research. We hope to hear you soon again with other “Ideas on Europe”.







Daniele Albertazzi Quoted in Italy’s Domani

Populism in Action’s Principal Investigator Prof. Daniele Albertazzi was quoted in Italy’s Domani newspaper on 22/10/21 in a news feature written by Davide Maria de Luca.

In the article entitled “Theatre of Quarrels on the Centre-Right” Prof. Albertazzi explains that:

…with highly compatible electorates and ideologies- the Italian right will reunite when it matters at the polls. Not least because every right-wing government led by Berlusconi in the past, was characterised by constant in-fighting between the parties making up the coalition, but this never stopped them from coming back together before the subsequent election.

Read the full article (in Italian) here.


Daniele Albertazzi Quoted in the Financial Times

Populism in Action’s Principal Investigator Dr. Daniele Albertazzi was quoted in the Financial Times on 08/07/2021. The article written by the paper’s Italy Correspondent Miles Johnson with Silvia Sciorilli Borrelli, is entitled “Silvio Berlusconi: Italy’s great survivor plots a succession plan”.

In the Johnson and Sciorilli Borrelli explore current developments within Forza Italia and Silvio Berlusconi’s business holdings, as well as assessing and appraising the businessman and politician’s career to date.

Daniele Albertazzi says that:

“No one inside Forza Italia really believes that the party can exist in a meaningful way without Berlusconi… If he named a successor he could have helped the party survive after him, but it remains entirely dependent on his personality and even funding.”

Reflecting on how Berlusconi has changed Italian politics and political discourse he says:

“If you listen back to that speech now it is all still there, he hasn’t really changed a single word over his career… He says ‘I am an outsider, I created an empire for myself and I can do the same for you. The politicians are corrupt and have betrayed you, and I am the man to lead the country.”

“He is the father of the idea that politics and politicians are dirty and need to be replaced by something else.” “These guys [Berlusconi’s children] are from a different world. The business may continue but the Berlusconi way of doing politics is dead.”

You can read the article in full here (paywall)

Daniele Albertazzi Quoted in Italy’s Domani

Populism in Actions’ Principal Investigator Dr. Daniele Albertazzi was quoted in an article published by the Italian newspaper Domani on 29/06/21. The article is about Giuseppe Conte’s political future, and more specifically whether he may soon leave the Five Star Movement and create yet another ”personal party”.

According to Dr. Albertazzi:

“If Conte were to found his own personal party we would again witness a situation whereby someone who has managed to become very well known without having roots in a specific area, without having created a party organisation and, in this case, without a clear ideology and values tries to ‘cash in’ on his notoriety for political advantage”.

While personal parties are now very widespread across Europe, Dr. Albertazzi argues that Italy has been an avant-guarde in this respect in recent years.

Read the full article (in Italian) here.

Daniele Albertazzi’s Analysis is Quoted in Politico Europe Article on Giorgia Meloni

Analysis of the shifting dynamics of the populist radical right in Italy by Populism in Action’s Principal Investigator Dr. Daniele Albertazzi was quoted in “Could Giorgia Meloni be Italy’s first female prime minister?” an article for Politico Europe written by Hannah Roberts and published on 12/05/21.

Daniele Albertazzi explains that Meloni poses:

 “a realistic threat” to Salvini’s leadership of the right-wing alliance… She is in a very good place.”

And that:

“The right-wing parties have a long history of working together [having] governed together for twenty five years…

Meaning if the Brothers of Italy come ahead of the League in a future election:

“…it is hard see how anyone can stop her becoming prime minister,”

The article can be read in full here.