The Rise of National Populism in Western Democracies.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 16:00
Location: John Bassett Theatre (102) (MTCC NORTH BUILDING)
Oral Presentation
Alberto MARTINELLI, University of Milan, Italy
The electoral success of Donald Trump in the USA and of national populist parties in several European countries, from Poland and Hungary (where they are in government) to France, Italy, Germany, Austria (where they have significant minorities), call for a reappraisal of the ideological bases and political strategies of both populism and nationalism. Populism is both an ideology and a strategy of consensus organization, its ideological core is thin but very strong, since it consists in the fundamental opposition between the people as undifferentiated whole which is by definition good, and the elites which are by definition corrupted and ineffective. The vagueness and plasticity of this ideological core, thin and strong at the same time, allows the populist rethoric to be combined with a ‘thick’ and highly structured ideology, such as nationalism, that divides the world between ‘us’ and ‘them’ and holds that national interests and values have absolute priority. In European countries national populism takes a strong anti-EU attitude and demands the closure of the frontiers and the renationalization of policies against the EU ‘superstate’. In the US Trump’s national populism is blended with protectionism and nativism and aims at reaffirming a unipolar, US-dominated world. The paper will analyse the main causes of the rise of national populism on both sides of the Atlantic (such as the crisis of representative democracy and its key institution,i.e. traditional, mainstream parties; the global financial crisis and the long economic stagnation which have aggravated inequalities and nationalist tensions; the role of the new media which widely use the web for naming and shaming adversaries, looking for scapegoats, expressing personal frustrations and prejudices).