CfP: “The backlash of the extreme: communicative constructions and media discourses mainstreaming populism and right wing radicalism in Central and Eastern Europe” (CEEPOPCOMM); DL: 10/04/2016

The present panel is intended to be part of the 4th ESA RN-32 mid-term conference “(Dis)locating EUrope: Conflicts, challenges and changes” (28-29 October 2016, Brussel/Bruxelles, BE). It is organized by Ov Cristian NOROCEL (CEREN, University of Helsinki, FI & Centre for Social Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, HU) and Gabriella SZABÓ (Centre for Social Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, HU). We are looking forward to selecting 4-5 contributions/session.

In the present context of an extremist backlash against liberal democracy, it is of special importance to examine the extent to which public discourses are permeated by populism and right wing radicalism and the level of visibility of the populist and radical right actors in the public debates. The panel aims to identify the regional specificities of the ‘soft’ factors of radicalization such as the role of communicative constructions and media in the dynamics of populism and radical right in Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries. We also address the question of the rather under-researched populist and radical right publics: the social media are believed to be intensively used by populist and radical actors to connect with each other and mobilize electoral support. There is however a pressing need for a more systematic overview of the complex interplay between social media, traditional formats of written press, and radio and TV broadcast of populism and right wing radicalism. With this in mind, we seek contributions that discover and critically analyse the rapidly growing media universe of populism and right wing radicalism. Empirical contributions like comparative studies, longitudinal analyses, and case studies are particularly welcome to elucidate whether populist and radical media products have entered into the mainstream or they remain on the fringes of media sphere in CEE countries. We are searching for novel conceptions and innovative methods of researching the communicative constructions of populism and radical right. Therefore, the panel is open to scholars from the disciplines of political sociology, media studies, communication studies, and (digital) ethnography who are interested in the comprehensive assessments of traditional and social media in mainstreaming the extreme politics.

Please, send your abstract (approximately 300 words, include e-mail and institutional affiliation information) to both organizers at szabo.gabriella[at]tk.mta.hu and cristian.norocel[at]helsinki.fi no later than April 10 2016.

The authors would be informed in a timely manner whether their papers have been accepted to be part of the panel. The authors of selected abstract would then receive detailed information concerning the submission process that must take by April 15 2016.

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Monday, March 7th, 2016 Research No Comments

Whose Populists Are Better? When the Populists Are Becoming the One Another’s Others.

It is often said that the European Parliamentary (EP) elections from June 2009 witnessed a rise of the radical-right populist parties. These parties have performed, indeed, very well. For instance in Finland, the True Finns (PS/Perussuomalaiset) has a mandate, in Romania, they surprisingly got 3, after Greater Romania Party (PRM/Partidul Romania Mare) surprisingly co-opted PNG‘s leader on their lists for the EP, and in Bulgaria the National Union Attack (Ataka) received 2 mandates. Not to mention that in the Netherlands the Party for Freedom (PVV/Partij voor de Vrijeheid) won 4 .

So far all these newly elected MEPs are crowding the ranks of the Non-Attached Members (NI/Non-Inscrits), with rather few options or ideas for building up their own party alliance within EP, which would ensure visibility and access to European financing. But things appear to be more complicated, and the fate of the now-deceased Identity Tradition, Sovereignty (ITS), and of the Independence/Democracy Group (IND/DEM) and Union of  Europe of Nation (UEN) clouds the future of any possible alliance of the radical right populists in the EP.

The aforementioned “alphabet soup” of various combinations of abbreviations and short-writings may be succeeded by the nascent Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD), reuniting Finnish populists (PS), with Italian Northern League (LN/Lega Nord), and Danish People’s Party (DP/Dansk Folkeparti). The Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) seems to be negotiating with the new alliance, though it is not very clear if this would be successfully concluded or not.

Worth mentioning, while looking at the NI, the non-attached parties, is the difficulty of the radical right populist parties from this category  to position themselves according to their party agenda, and at the same time consolidate a functional alliance in EP.

One such example is the interview given by Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch PVV to Euronews channel (the whole interview may be viewed here). While most of the interview is focusing on what Wilders calls the danger Europe faces to giving in to Muslims pursuing to enforce Sharia on the continent, the title underlines the existing tensions between the “old” EU (The Netherlands are among the founding members) and the “newly arrived” from the last round of enlargement, Romania and Bulgaria. According to Wilders “the Dutch people think that Europe is large enough”, especially with regard to the hypothetical EU accession of Turkey and Ukraine. Playing the card of the menacing Other, especially the Muslim Other, is part of his usual discourse. The mention of  cohorts of fanatical Muslims that corner ever-appeasing European-wide political establishment into granting Sharia legal standing within EU is not something uncommon in his speeches and interviews.

But then it appears that not even the EU latecomers Bulgaria and Romania are to be spared because “those countries were not ready at all, were very unready and very corrupt as well.”  Suddenly the focus from the possible threat coming from a so distinctive Other (as the European Muslim) moves to the eastern borders of the EU, eying the newest EU-members. In this case the evil Other is no longer that easily perceived, and comes with an air of Balkanism, and suspicions of bribe and unruliness. Yet again fantasies of purity and of social welfare are interestingly mixed to portray  an Other that is rather a peripheral presence, somewhere in an indistinct, far away and backward East, but positing the treat of always coming among the People, and possibly corrupting them. Even among the newly elected MEPs, one of PRM‘s representatives, George Becali, was put under a travel ban by Romanian judges under the suspicion of corruption.

In this context, one cannot but to wonder where are the radical right populists of Bulgaria and Romania in this whole conspiracy of the Other? Doing the maths, 2 MEPs from Ataka and 3 from PRM, may be just as good, and some may dare say as European as PVV‘s 4.  What is then what divides them, and will they be able go past treating themselves as one another’s Others? Will radical right populists in EU manage to look past their obsessions of purity and settle for the compromises of daily politics?

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Tuesday, July 7th, 2009 Research 1 Comment