RESEARCH AGENDA: COMPARATIVE RIGHTWING POPULISM
(PROJECTS AND PAPERS UNDER DEVELOPMENT)

 

Reinhard Heinisch

 

1) SPECIAL ISSUE – COMPARATIVE EUROPEAN POLITICS

Here we are developing a special issue for Comparative European Politics, which we have been approved. This is a joined endeavor with Oscar Mazzoleni and Emmanuelle Massetti: "Territory and Populism" (approved to be published 2019).

Objective

In recent decades, several successful Western European political parties have been labelled as populist. The defense of sovereignty, the attack on the establishment, and the claim for the power of the community are often emphasized in their discourse and strategies. The literature devoted to these parties provides a rich volume of contributions, including discussions about the definition of populism. However, despite its underlying role in the concepts of sovereignty and community, the territorial component has rarely been taken into account within the current context of party populism. The consequence is two-fold. On the one hand, populist parties are conceptually related, albeit often implicitly, to the nation-wide frame, which assumes that the perimeter of the power of the people coincides with the national state; on the other, theoretical perspectives that emphasize territoriality in party mobilization, such as regionalism, tend to avoid or marginalize the concept of populism. What currently prevails in the literature, therefore, is an implicit divide between “state-wide” or “nation-wide” populist parties, and parties (sub-nationally) regionally bounded and claiming for regional empowerment.

Goals and research questions

Considering the previous rationale, this international workshop pursues a three-fold goal:

  • To focus on the linking between the territorial dimension of populism, nationalism and regionalism in a multi-layered political system.
  • To bridge the literature on (nation-wide) populist parties and the literature devoted to regionalist parties.
  • To highlight the regional/regionalist dimension in relation to the populist claim (as valued common people, as an anti-establishment stance, as nativism, etc.).

Workshop Paper (presented in Lausanne 2016)

 

2) BOOK CONTRACT WITH ROUTLEDGE (DUE OUT 2019)

Title: The People and the Nation: Populism and Ethno-Territorial Politics in Europe (Series on Extremism and Democracy, Series editors: Matthew Goodwin and Roger Eatwell)

Reinhard Heinisch (University of Salzburg), Emanuele Massetti (University of Surrey) and Oscar Mazzoleni (University of Lausanne)

A Statement of Aims

This edited book aims to systematically and rigorously investigate the relationship and possible linkages between populist and ethno-territorial politics in the context of Europe (both Western and Central-Eastern). It fruitfully brings together two growing scholarships that have unfortunately remained apart so far: that on populism and that on ethno-territorial politics. The former investigates the politics of antagonizing the common people vis-a-vis the elites, usually addressed empirically at the national level, while the latter investigates the antagonistic political relationship of state vs. state-less nationalism (or competing ethno-national groups) within states.

 

3) EQUIVOCAL EUROSCEPTICISM – HOW EUROSCEPTICAL IS THE FPÖ AND ITS SISTER PARTIES IN THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT?

Project with Duncan McDonnell and Annika Werner (Griffith University)

Research Question: Why do some radical right populist parties play between 'reform' & 'reject' lines? What explains the shifting position on (hard vs. soft) Euroscepticism of radical right populist parties?

Paper prepared for IPSA 2018

Paper (presented at EUSA 2017)

 

4) POPULISM AND FRINGE PARTIES IN EASTERN CENTRAL EUROPE: PARTY POLITICS

Special Issue of Party Politics (edited by Sergiu Gherghina)

Objective

Our research first presents an empirical analysis of the strength of radical right fringe parties and populism in CEE. It that the prevalence of populism and especially of a populist radical right discourse is closely related to how political parties responded to specific conditions in the post-transition period, notably EU accession and economic reforms. Both mainstream and fringe parties were guided by a need to differentiate themselves from their competitors. As mainstream leftist parties adopted market-liberal policies, mainstream rightwing parties competed increasingly on sociocultural issues where they accommodated the agenda by rightwing radical fringe parties. These had initially emerged when mainstream parties were still constrained politically in the context of EU accession. The article shows that the pattern is different where the mainstream left embraced sociocultural issues or where radical rightwing populism remained contained.

 

5) CONVERGENCE MAINSTREAM AND RADICAL RIGHT PARTIES

Annika Werner (Griffith University), Fabian Habersack (University of Salzburg)

This comprises a series of papers developed among others for special issues in European Politics and Society, West European Politics, and Representation.

Here we investigate why Austrian parties have (re)constructed claims of national sovereignty and brought them to the center of the Austrian political competition. Theoretically, claims for national sovereignty or neo-nationalism are directed at recovering the people’s sovereignty rights from ‘sinister’ elites and ‘harmful’ outsiders like immigrants. As such claims vary in terms of policy content, salience and discursive means, our research uses the analysis of manifestos and speeches to ascertain how the radical right populist Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) constructed sovereignty claims in 2013 and 2017. Furthermore, it shows how the mainstream right Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) adopted these claims, thus converging with the FPÖ and placing the struggle for national sovereignty at the heart of the 2017 election campaign. In a second step, the research explains the prevalence of these reconstructed sovereignty claims in Austria. Central to this explanation is whether such calls for national sovereignty are rooted in general ideological preferences or in primarily strategic considerations. This article thus contributes to the explanations of rising neo-nationalism by investigating its detailed form and conditions for its occurrence.

Conference/working paper (presented in Lausanne 2017)

 

6) RADICAL RIGHTWING POPULISM AS MASS PARTY LEGACY

This is a follow-up of our 2016 book (Palgrave) Understanding Populist Party Organization.

The prevalent interpretation in party politics development argues the Western European mass party is over, as its ideological appeal and grassroots membership declined while its dependence on public funding has grown. This article challenges this wisdom showing how the rise of the Western European radical populist right-wing parties might represent a partial recovering of the mass party legacy. Through a comparative analysis among seven successful parties, the paper contends some features of mass party persist, such as a strong party ideology, a differentiated and centralised organisation with concentrated leadership, as well as a strong grass-root membership.

Draft paper

 

7) POLITICAL POPULISM: A HANDBOOK

Check our new Handbook on Populism.

All over Europe, we are currently witnessing populist political parties and figures enjoying success in elections and mobilising the electorate against the supposed elite. The most recent example of this political development is the Brexit campaign in the UK, which demonstrated that populists can exert considerable influence over political decisions. Populist parties are also enjoying election successes outside Europe; this phenomenon has been occurring in the US and Latin America for a long time, for example.

The new “Handbook on Political Populism” offers a comprehensive theoretical and empirical introduction to populist politics in Europe, the Americas and beyond. It focuses on explaining the phenomenon of populism as a consequence of the crisis of the representational system and aims to highlight the controversies and limits of current academic research and debate on the subject.

 

8) POPULISM IN THE EUROPEAN "PERIPHERY": UNDERSTANDING POPULIST POLITICS IN THE WESTERN BALKANS, SOUTHERN CAUCASUS, AND THE UKRAINE

With Aneta Cekik (University Ss. Cyril and Methodius- Skopje)

Book to be developed for the NOMOS populism series with experts from Albania, Armenia, Bosnia, Georgia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and the Ukraine

ERASMUS-sponsored workshop in Salzburg in April 2018, with the following contributors:

  • ASHOT ALEKSANYAN (Yerevan State University): "Mapping populism in the European Post-Transition Periphery"
  • BEKIM BALIQI & JEHONA LUSHAKU (University of Pristina): "From Social Movement to Populist Party: case of 'VETËVENDOSJE' (Self-determination) in Kosovo
  • LASHA BAZHUNAISHVILI (Batumi Shota Rustaveli State University): "Euro-populism and New Political Trends in Georgia"
  • KLODIANA BESHKU (University of Tirana): "Populism as a 'political style': The case of Albania"
  • BLERJANA BINO (Department of Communication and Public Relations European University of Tirana): "Populism in Western Balkans"
  • ANETA CEKIK (Ss. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje): "Populists in government: the case of IMRO-DPMNE’s rule in Macedonia 2006-2017"
  • SIMON CLARKE (American University of Armenia): "Populism; a Framework and its application to Armenia"
  • RUBEN ELAMIRYAN (Public Administration Academy of the Republic of Armenia): "The Specificities of Populism in the Countries in Democratic Transition: Challenges for Armenia"
  • KORNELY KAKACHIA (Tbilisi State University): "Contextualization of Populism in Georgian Politics"
  • OKSANA KRAYEVSKA (National University of Lviv, Ukraine): "Populism in the Programmes and Activities of the Political Parties in Ukraine."
  • DAVID MATSABERIDZE (Tbilisi State University): "The Rotating Populist Discourses of the Post-Soviet Georgia: The Nation, State and People"
  • MAJA SAVIĆ-BOJANIĆ (Sarajevo School of Science and Technology): "Populism in Bosnia and Herzegovina: 'Folksy' Politics in an Ethno-Nationalist Partitocracy"
  • AVDI SMAJLJAJ (Fama College): "Populism in a never ending and multiple system transformation: the Kosovo case"
  • NEMANJA STANKOV (Central European University): "Populist Electorate Without Populist Parties – The Curious case of Montenegro"

Call for Papers

 

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