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Department of Political Science

Doctoral dissertation: Populism in Politics and Communication: A Comparative Study of Eight Countries, 1970-2015 (Luca Manucci)

The electoral success of populist parties in the last 30 years has been explained through processes such as globalization and modernization. The burgeoning literature about radical right-wing populist parties, however, left largely unexplained an important aspect: cross-country variation. Populism is triggered by factors such as economic crisis, European supra-national governance and the mediatization of politics. Why, then, we do not find similar levels of populist success in every Western European country? This study investigates a new explanation: the role of national political culture and collective memory. Moreover, instead of focusing on the electoral success, the aim is to investigate the presence of populist communicative strategies in the public debate. This dependent variable allows to overcome the simplistic dichotomy between populist and non-populist actors, and to measure how often every actor rely on populist communicative strategies in newspaper articles (tabloid and quality newspapers) as well as in party manifestos. Populism is therefore considered in its discursive dimension, and it is expected to become a discursive strategy varying across countries according to the level of stigmatization of the Fascist experience in Europe until 1945. The countries analyzed are Austria, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Related papers:

  • Paper on “Populism in Europe, 1970-2015: A Comparative Analysis”, at MPSA Annual Conference, Chicago, April 7-10, 2016.
  • Paper on “Populist Discourse as a Dependent  Variable”, at the ECPR Joint Sessions, Pisa, April 24-28, 2016.