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Populism, the ‘people’ and the illusion of democracy – The Front National and UKIP in a comparative context

Authors
  • Mondon, Aurelien1
  • 1 University of Bath, Department of PoLIS, Bath, BA2 7AY, UK , Bath (United Kingdom)
Type
Published Article
Journal
French Politics
Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan UK
Publication Date
Jun 12, 2015
Volume
13
Issue
2
Pages
141–156
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1057/fp.2015.6
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

The 2014 European elections confirmed the prominence in the media of what is commonly called the far right. While parties such as the Front National and UKIP were successful in the elections, their performance has since been exaggerated and they have benefited from a disproportionate coverage. Aiding their apparently ‘irresistible rise’, their normalisation was greatly facilitated by their description as ‘populist’ parties. However, while this term ‘populism’ has been almost universally accepted in the media, it remains a hotly debated concept on the academic circuit, and its careless use could in fact prove counterproductive in the assessment of the current state of democracy in Europe. Instead of focusing on the reasons behind the rise of these parties, similarities and differences already widely covered in the literature, this article hypothesises that a skewed and disproportionate coverage of the European elections in particular, and the ‘rise’ of ‘right-wing populism’ in general, have prevented a thorough democratic discussion from taking place and impeded the possibility of other political alternatives.

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