Populist Discourse & Political Practices – Juan Roch Gonzalez

freie universität berlin

“It is worth to explore populism as a discourse or thin-ideology in interrelation with other discourses and political practices, rather than analysing it in isolation as an attribute of specific politicians, political parties of movements. For instance, right-wing populist parties (AfD, Front National, PiS, Ukip) exhibit a nativist or at least nationalist discourse when constructing “the people”, whereas leftist populist parties (Podemos, Syriza, Le France Insoumise) tend to construct it in a more heterogeneous and inclusionary way; it is also apparent that “the people” in leftist populist discourse is associated with notions such as social rights, or cosmopolitan human rights. In this process of construction of the populist discourse, Europe comes about by representing alternatively the Europe of the elites or the Europe of the people. However, the articulation of Europe within a populist discourse is changing, complex and multifaceted and cannot be reduced to hard/soft Eurosceptic classifications.

We need, indeed, new ways to discern the representations, practical argumentations, and potentials for action of left-wing and right-wing populist actors when facing the European Union dilemma since they are at the heart of the EU internal conflicts. They both are critical towards the EU in this crucial moment after the Brexit but: Is there only a nationalist alternative to the EU? Is populism always a disrupting force for the EU institutional order? Can we imagine no-nationalist exit routes from the EU?”

– Juan Roch Gonzalez, Freie Universität Berlin