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National Democracy or Identity Democracy ; when right-wing populists talk about “democracy” - the case of the “Rassemblement National” (France), the “Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs” (Austria) and the "Alternative für Deutschland" (Germany)

  • Debras, François
Publication Date
Aug 20, 2019
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A significant part of the literature considers that right-wing populist parties are anti-democratic (Backes 2004; Carter 2005). These parties are opposed to democratic institutions (Khosravinik & Mral 2013; Shekhovtsov 2013; Passmore 2016) or to the values of democracy (Betz 2004; Kallis 2013; Camus & Lebourg 2015; Gauthier 2015). On the other hand, in the political field, right-wing populist parties consider themselves to be democratic parties. They present themselves as the defenders of the people, the promoters of a true democracy: against the EU, against other political parties, against Islam (Taguieff 2012; Mayer 2016; Bowler 2017). In this way, we think it is relevant to ask ourselves the question of how does right-wing populism define democracy? To answer these questions, we propose to study the ideological productions of 3 parties: the "Rassemblement national" (France), the "Freiheitliche Partei Österreich" (Austria) and “Alternative für Deutschland” (Germany). The RN and the FPÖ have both transformed or modernized their speeches. From an electoral point of view, both parties have important electoral results and sit in many institutions. In addition, the RN and the FPÖ have private and professional relationships (Wodak 2013; Pelinka 2013; Perrineau 2015). AfD is a more recent party. However, it has important electoral results. It also maintains relations with the RN and the FPÖ in the private, political and ideological fields (Morreau 2016). In relation to our research question, we decide to study ideological productions of the RN, the FPÖ and the AfD (speeches, press conferences, open letters,...). The discourse is mobilized here as a tool. In other words, speeches are materials from which we seek to identify representations, values, intentions and even acts of social creation (Le Bart 2010; Maingueneau 2016; Angermuller 2017). Finally for our data analysis we proceed in three steps : 1) does right-wing populism mobilize the notion of democracy? (content analysis) 2) How does right-wing populism define democracy? (framing analysis) 3) Why does right-wing populism mobilize the notion of democracy? (critical discourse analysis). In more detail, we believe that the definitions of the term "democracy" in the discourse of right-wing populist parties mainly concern the mobilization of certain tools (referendums and initiatives) as well as a desire to "give power back to the people" ("people" that the right-wing populist parties define in a specific way). Our analysis also highlights links between our results and notions of identity, nationalism, chauvinism and nativism. We will conclude by questioning this "identity democracy" or "national democracy".

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