Limiting democratic horizons to a nationalist reaction: populism, the radical right and the working class

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Abstract

Since the 1990s, the term ‘populism’ has become increasingly linked to reconstructed radical right parties in Europe such as the French Front National and UKIP. Through its many uses and misuses in mainstream discourse, this association has created a mythology around such parties and their appeal to the ‘people’. This development has facilitated the return of nationalism and racism to the forefront of the mainstream political discourse and simultaneously obscured the deeper causes for such a revival.
This article explores the ways in which populist hype, based on a skewed understanding of democracy as majority, has divided the ‘people’ along arbitrary lines, tearing communities apart at the expense of more emancipatory actions. Based predominantly on electoral analysis and discourse theory, with a particular focus on the role of abstention, the aim of this article is to examine the process through which, by way of its involuntary and constructed association with the radical right, the ‘people’, and the working class in particular, have become essentialised in a nationalist project, moving further away from a narrative of class struggle towards one of race struggle.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-374
JournalJavnost - The Public: Journal of the European Institute for Communication and Culture
Volume24
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2017

Keywords

  • Populism
  • democracy
  • UKIP
  • Front National
  • abstention

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