Advertisement

Between the Populist Left and Right: Discursive Structure and Ideological Interventions in Podemos and the National Front

  • Michael De La Caridad Ledezma
Chapter

Abstract

The concept of populism is famously ambiguous, posing difficulties in its application as an analytical category and empirical identifier. Much of the existing literature has focused on defining populism as either a “thin-centered” ideology, or as a discursive style. Furthermore, where typological analyses have been undertaken, they have primarily been limited to describing parties of the same ideological category, while failing to account for formal differences across the left–right ideological scale. One way to address this lacuna is by following Ernesto Laclau’s shift in emphasis toward elaborating a theory of the internal logic of populism as such. This discourse-centered approach enables us to locate the properly populist structural features of political discourse, thereby bringing into clearer view the distinct ideological elements. Using a most different case comparative method, I provide a detailed comparative case-study analysis of Podemos in Spain and the National Front (FN) in France. Drawing on close readings of party manifestos, speeches, and interviews, my analysis applies Laclau’s analytical framework in order to identify the ways in which particular manifestations of populist discourse exhibit morphological differences at the structural level when supplemented by ideologies of the left or right. I conclude that while populism provides an invariant discursive structure that serves to integrate and organize meaning, ideological differences substantially alter the conception of political antagonism, as well as particular policy content. Among others, my findings show that whereas both parties ostensibly champion democracy, the concrete proposals put forward toward this end evince a diametric opposition in the conception of participation.

References

  1. Althusser, L. (2014). On the reproduction of capitalism: Ideology and ideological state apparatuses. New York: Verso.Google Scholar
  2. Aslanidis, P. (2015). Is populism an ideology? A refutation and a new perspective. Political Studies, 64, 88–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. BBC. (2015, March 3). The Power of Le Pen – BBC, Our World. YouTube video, 23:15, posted by mail2onur. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzn5CoEWW1I
  4. Buck, T. (2014, November 21). Spain’s surging Podemos party rushes to get to the top. Financial Times. http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/697bfd1c-70dc-11e4-85d5-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3ZnHEYvwj
  5. Chrisafis, A. (2015, December 7). Front National wins opening round in France’s regional elections. The Guardian. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/06/front-national-wins-opening-round-in-frances-regional-elections
  6. Cuatro. (2014). Pablo Iglesias, a Susana Díaz: “La casta no la define el origen de tu abuelo, sino el comportamiento de los politicos [Pablo Iglesias to Susana Diaz: “The case does not define the origin of your grandfather, but rather the behavior of politicians]. http://www.cuatro.com/las-mananas-de-cuatro/2014/junio/10-06-2014/Pablo-Iglesias-Suana-Diaz-comportamiento_2_1809705080.html
  7. Democracy Now! (2015, February 17). A new Syriza? Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias on Spain’s growing anti-austerity movement. YouTube video, 17:42, posted by Democracy Now! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0eK7yvmdSRg
  8. Derrida, J. (2005). Rogues: Two essays on reason. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. El Politico. (2015, January 15). Definición de casta según Pablo Iglesias [Definition of caste according to Pablo Iglesias]. YouTube video, 0:27, posted by El Politico. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ro4Mg45JJoo
  10. Errejón, I. (2015, April 10). Crisis de régimen y hegemonía. La Circular. http://lacircular.info/crisis-de-regimen-y-hegemonia/
  11. Freeden, M. (1996). Is nationalism a distinct ideology? Political Studies, XLVI, 748–765.Google Scholar
  12. Freeden, M. (1998). Ideologies and political theory: A conceptual approach. Oxford: Clarendon Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Jones, O. (2015, January 26). Syriza’s victory: This is what the politics of hope looks like. The Guardian. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jan/26/syriza-victory-lifted-greek-politics-cynicism-hope
  14. Jungar, A. (2015). Business as usual: Ideology and populist appeals of the Sweden democrats. In H. Kriesi et al. (Eds.), European populism in the shadow of the great recession. Colchester: ECPR Press.Google Scholar
  15. Kriesi, H., & Pappas, T. S. (2015). Populism in Europe during crisis: An introduction. In H. Kriesi et al. (Eds.), European populism in the shadow of the great recession. Colchester: ECPR Press.Google Scholar
  16. Laclau, E. [1977] (2011). Politics and ideology in Marxist theory. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  17. Laclau, E. (1996). Subject of politics, politics of the subject. In Emancipation(s). London: Verso.Google Scholar
  18. Laclau, E. (2005a). On populist reason. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  19. Laclau, E. (2014). Articulation and the limits of metaphor. In The rhetorical foundations of society. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  20. Laclau, E., & C. Mouffe. [1985] (2014). Hegemony and socialist strategy: Towards a radical democratic politics. New York: Verso.Google Scholar
  21. Le Front National. (2015). Notre Projet: Programme politique du front national. https://www.frontnational.com/pdf/Programme.pdf
  22. Les Inrocks. (2015, May 2). Pourquoi Force Ouvrière Est Le Syndicat Préféré Du Front National. Les Inrocks. http://www.lesinrocks.com/2015/05/02/actualite/pourquoi-force-ouvriere-est-le-syndicat-prefere-du-front-national-11745849/
  23. Machuca, P. (2014, May 18). Pablo Iglesias (Podemos): “Falta gente joven y sobra casta política y económinca. [Young people are needed and there are more than enough of the political and economic caste] El Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.es/2014/05/18/pablo-iglesias-entrevista_n_5338870.html
  24. Mudde, C. (2004). The populist Zeitgeist. Government and Opposition: An International Journal of Comparative Politics, 39(4), 541–563.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Mudde, C. (2007). Populist radical right parties in Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Mudde, C., & Rovira Kaltwasser, C. (2013). Populism in Europe and the Americas: Threat or corrective for democracy? Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Podemos. (2014). Documento Final Del Programa Colaborativo. http://blogs.elpais.com/files/programa-podemos.pdf
  28. Ranciere, J. (2010). Ten theses on politics. In Dissensus: On politics and aesthetics. London: Bloomsbury Academic.Google Scholar
  29. Rydgren, J. (2005). Is extreme right-wing populism contagious? Explaining the emergence of a new party family. European Journal of Political Research, 44, 413–437.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Scarpetta, V. (2015, March 23). Local elections confirm a quarter of French voters support Front National. Open Europe. http://openeurope.org.uk/blog/local-elections-confirm-a-quarter-of-french-voters-support-front-national/
  31. Taggart, P. A. (2000). Populism. Buckingham: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  32. The Economist. (2015, March 14). The resistible rise of Marine Le Pen. The Economist. http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21646205-frances-mainstream-parties-must-do-more-counter-far-right-national-front-resistible
  33. The Guardian. (2012, June 20). Marine Le Pen: ‘Integration is the Anglo-Saxon system adopted in Great Britain. YouTube video, 7:29, posted by The Guardian. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hriotjnwPI
  34. Wieviorka, M. (2013). The Front National-caught between extremism, democracy, and populism. In C. Fieschi et al. (Eds.), Populist fantasies: European revolts in context. Berkeley: Counterpoint Press.Google Scholar
  35. Worsley, P. (1969). The concept of populism. In G. Ionescu et al. (Eds.), Populism. London: Macmillan Publishing.Google Scholar
  36. Ylä-Anttila, T., & Ylä-Anttila, T. (2015). Exploiting the discursive opportunity of the euro crisis: The rise of the finns party. In H. Kriesi et al. (Eds.), European populism in the shadow of the great recession. Colchester: ECPR Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael De La Caridad Ledezma
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA

Personalised recommendations