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The Sirens’ Song. When Right-Wing Populism Deals with “Democracy”

  • Debras, François
Publication Date
Jul 18, 2023
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peer reviewed / Today, right-wing populist parties (RWPP) are integrating into European political systems. Some of these groups acquire significant legitimacy in view of their electoral results and successes. In this way, I think it is relevant to ask myself the question of how these parties relate to the notion of "democracy" - what content do they put behind this concept? Especially since many right-wing populist parties use the term "democracy" in their political programmes, speeches and press releases. To answer this question, I propose to focus on the ideological production of these parties to analyse mainly their political programmes, speeches, press releases and internet communication. Discourse is mobilized here as a tool, a way of accessing intentions, strategies, ideas. In other words, through different modes of communication, political actors build and/or mobilize ideologies, values, customs and positions that they promote or reject. For this presentation, I propose to study the discourses of the RN (France), the FPÖ (Austria) and the AfD (Germany). I will combine a content analysis (co-occurrence of the term "democracy” and definition frameworks) and a critical discourse analysis (how the argument of democracy is used to politicise issues, designate enemies, and establish a national people?). I postulate that if, according to some authors, RWPP are "anti-democratic", they nevertheless have a real relationship with it. Without taking a position on definitions of democracy, it seems undeniable to us that RWPP parties claim, in their speeches, the notion of "democracy". In more detail, I believe that the definitions of the term "democracy" in the discourse of RWPP 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 RWPP define in a specific way). In addition, I believe that some values would not be present or less present (equality, pluralism, multiculturalism, citizenship,...)

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