Table of Contents
List of Abbreviations I
Chapter 1: Populism-A Conceptual Framework
1.1. Of Origins and Fundaments
1.2. Approaches to the Phenomenon
1.3. New Populism
1.4. Interim Conclusion
Chapter 2: AfD and PiS-comparable at all?
2.1. Two Parties, Two Systems
2.2. Populism: The Case of AfD
2.3. Populism: The Case of PiS
2.4. Interim Conclusion
Chapter 3: Analyzing the Spirit-A Quantitative Approach
3.1. Methodological Approach
3.2. Ideology and Voting Behavior
3.3. Personal Traits as Determinants for voting?
3.4. Interim Conclusion
Conclusion and Outlook
Appendix 1: Operationalization
Appendix 2: Technical Addendum
List of References and Sources
This study sheds light upon the phenomenon of populism by comparing the parties Alternative for Germany and Law and Justice regarding a common populist spirit. While the manifold understandings of populism and its origins are expounded, the study applies the ideological approach of populism to further conduct a research upon the right-wing populist character of both parties. However, both parties are not right-wing populist parties in their very fundament but underwent a transformation into such through two populist moments. Applying a binominal logistic regression reveals populist determinants of voting behavior for each party, and thus, their ideological core. While a fertile breeding ground for right-wing populist attitudes is given after the respective first populist moment of each party, it can be shown as well that such attitudes have not been decisively influencing voting decision at that time.
populism, PiS, AfD, right-wing, ideology, voting behavior, comparative study, popu- list moment, logistic regression
Area of study
14.100 Political Science
The title of the thesis in Polish
Wspolny duch populizmu? Analiza porownawcza Alternatywy dla Niemiec (AfD) oraz Prawa i Sprawiedliwosci (PiS)
List of Abbreviations
Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten
“We're trying to get it [populism] under control, but it's a poison that appears whenever you have unsolved problems.”1
ANGELA MERKEL, 2018
When the American magazine Time picked Angela Merkel as Person of the Year in 2015, it argued that her “refugee decision was a galvanizing moment”2, exemplifying the role of the-what the New York Times later called-“Liberal West's Last Defender”3. However, it is pointed out that in the same year world politics has witnessed “the rise of right-wing populism from Poland and Hungary to France and Germany itself.”4 Within Germany many of Merkel's supporters fled to the far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD) and in the neighbor country Poland the conservative party Law and Justice (PiS) won in an “election dominated by the refugee crisis.”5 Following this narrative, populism may be understood as in opposition to a liberal world order, being closely connected to rightwing ideologies. However, the term populism remains rather unprecise by not incorporating populism of the political left then. With the rise of new and decline of old parties, political systems in Europe witnessed a shift within the last decade.6 Even if the term populism is scientifically better examined today, there remains confusion about clear criteria, even if there seems to be an association of the named political direction: parties on the right spectrum. However, geographical differentiations are made, when it's underlined that in the countries of Middle Eastern Europe another form of right populism has emerged than the one being know in Western European countries.7 But how do these differences look alike? And even if there are-may there be a common populist spirit? What attributes shape the party and the voters of it? This research paper aims to shed light upon these questions by conducting a comparative analysis of the German party Alternative for Germany and the Polish party Law and Justice: two parties, which are occasionally described as populist parties like above, but do fundamentally differ from each other.
Existing research and literature provide a differentiation between populism and extremism. However, clear borders remain blurred: Case studies on single parties have been conducted to examine what exactly defines parties as populist and what socio-cultural background their voters have-these studies are mostly qualitative. Especially regarding the mentioned differentiation between populist parties in Western European and in Middle Eastern European States gaps of research get visible. On the one hand certain parties from both regions are being named “populist”, but on the other hand no comparative analysis has been conducted to prove the applicable narrative. However, this appears to be necessary, since the phenomenon of populism could be understood much more indepth when set in a comparison. Whereas research on voters and party identity exist in general, few transnational comparative studies are provided. Thus, this study on-hand provides a new approach and seeks to enlighten the understanding of populist parties and their shared character. Using a comparative case study, findings on the following guiding questions will be provided:
1) How is the term populism understood in the scientific debate?
2) To which extent populist parties from different countries can be compared?
3) Are AfD and PiS populist parties?
4) What attributes do populist parties share?
5) How populist are the voters of both parties in the comparison?
The choice for both selected parties seems reasonable. Firstly, literature on populism in Europe finds the AfD party as an example of right-wing populism in Germany.8 At latest, the decision of the German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution in January 2019 to announce further investigation into the party as a matter of suspected extremism, shows the ambivalence of democracy and populism. The result of 12,7% at parliamentary election to the German Bundestag in 2017 gives reason to conduct further research on populism on this specific party-due to historical reasons, populist parties rarely had success in Germany. Secondly, also the Polish PiS party is, next to Fidesz in Hungary, being identified as an exemplification of populism in Middle Eastern countries, even if it's, unlike AfD, a governing party.9 Hence, it must be certain attributes of a party, which define it as “populist” and not it's very root as both parties are mingled under the same term. Both parties share a remarkable founding background since both have emerged in the aftermath of transformative changes: Although AfD is not built on post-communist structures throughout the entire state, it finds by far the largest electorate in the former territory of the former communist-ruled German Democratic Republic (GDR). Moreover, comparing parties of these two countries may give implications for further research on a larger scale. As a result of these thoughts, this paper provides the following structure:
The first chapter seeks to shed light upon the concept of populism by providing a conceptual framework. Since the wording of “populism” is rather new in the arena of Political Science, it seems important to trace back the roots of this term in order to concretize a clear definition.10 On the one hand the term “right-wing populism” has been used widely and colloquially to describe xenophobic protest parties.11 On the other hand it is disputed if just determining a common ideological base for populism is conceivable.12 Overlapping definitions of populism and extremism make it inevitable to present the current state of research. Especially considering the development of populism in both countries, but also in further European countries, this chapter seeks to put this research on hand into a wider context. It turns out that populist parties share common features in matters of organization, ideology and rhetoric and can be defined by that. Finally, the chapter urges the need to conduct a comparative research between international parties, based on these attributes.
The second chapter focuses on the two parties, which are in the center of research: The German oppositional party Alternative for Germany and the Polish governing party Law and Justice. Before presenting the background of each party to determine whether, how and to which extent these two parties are comparable, general findings set populism into context of democracy and each nation's political circumstances. Structural patterns provide adequate material for a grounded comparison of both parties, like the sociocultural background of its voters. While institutional differences are pointed out, a common programmatic core can be identified. Key to the following quantitative research is the identification of two so-called populist moments in each party's history. However, it seems necessary to point out the differences as well to work out appropriate variables for the following quantitative research in the next chapter.
The third chapter provides the methodological background and research design on which the quantitative research is based on. It is crucial that the methodological approach is presented just in the fourth chapter, as the actual analysis takes place here: While the first and second chapter outline conceptual thoughts, ending up in the finding as to whether AfD and PiS can be classified as right-wing populist parties, the third chapter provides the theoretical background to quantitively compare both. Focusing on the voters' behavior which are assumed to mirror the parties' ideology, a statistical method finds partial correlations of voters' populist attitudes and their voting behavior. The quantitative analysis draws on the moment after both respective first populist moment but before the second: Doing that, the core and potential of a somewhat right-wing populist ideology can be revealed. In combination with a follow-up study using the same method but with the not- available yet dataset including the second populist moment would formidably contribute to the understanding of ideological evolvement of both parties. Hence, having provided the methodological part earlier would seem to be insufficient for a coherent understanding of this examination.
The following chapter on conclusion brings together all the findings of the previous chapters. All guiding research questions will be answered here. Explicitly by referring to the theory on populist parties and its concrete quantitative application on the cases of AfD and PiS, the results may provide a tentative answer to the guiding question if both parties share a common populist spirit. The matrix of attributes will be partly filled, opening a path for further research in this topic. Finally, an outlook exemplifies further developments in this area.
Chapter 1: Populism-A Conceptual Framework
Looking at the risen number of publications in both media and science, which are related to “populism”, it seems as if “populism is one of the main political buzzwords of the 21st century.”13 While in the decade between 1950 and 1960 about 160 new scientific publications were produced, in the ten years between 1990 and 2000, the number exceeded 1500 publications.14 Just in 2004 few political scientists would “believe that populism deserves their attention.”15 However, just one decade later, literature on populism has entered the mainstream of the academic debate.16 This exponential rise of literature may reflect the rising need for understanding the complex phenomenon of populism but also the difficulties for defining this catch-all term:17 what exactly is meant by populism, how it differs from public understanding; how it can be defined and what are its features? It seems impossible to revise all publications to this topic not to speak of providing an overview of all the different approaches. However, recent publications provide elementary work for definition of the phenomenon as well as case studies and comparisons both with qualitatively quantitatively.
This chapter aims to shed light upon the term populism by setting out a conceptual framework, which serves as a guideline for this paper. A working definition for the term is essential for further research since not only the comparison of the two parties but also the implications of the work will be based on that. Since the term is also in the scientific world differently understood and, thus, put into diverging theories, this chapter aims to provide a clear understanding of how populism is meant here. Eventually, clear characteristics of a populist party are defined. Sketching out the spectrum of scientific research about populism gives an understanding for the complexity. Particularly considering the context of the spatial and temporal scales is inevitable to arrive at a deduced working conceptualization. Therefore, this chapter will work out the development of the term and its understanding to embed this paper in the scientific context. Given the previous steps, hypotheses are worked for the further research.
It is to be noted that to the entire thesis certain conceptual delimitations apply: The concept of populism will be applied to the research objectives, eventually. Certain nonconstructive definitions of populism will be reasonably rejected. The concept of populism will be placed in the context of populist parties. Moreover, the relation between democracy and populism will be presented. It will be shown that the term of right-wing populism is to be understood as a specific characteristic of populism and will be relevant for this work but should, however, not be confused with right-wing extremism; in this context the partial title of the work “common populist spirit” will be defined. Consequently, this chapter does not aim to provide a new theory or conceptualization for populism but tries to apply and tailor existing research to the instant research objectives.
Furthermore, context variables of the research are to be considered which delimit the working hypotheses and research questions: Firstly, since the historic context is crucial for the understanding of populism and since both final research objectives are political parties being founded in 21th century only, the elaborated conceptualization is conducted in this temporal context.18 Moreover both parties operate in two different political systems, each with a different political culture: The concept of populism always depends on the geographical and local context, in which it is placed.19 As this chapter shows, most of existing research about populism focusses on different linguistic and cultural areas; firstly in Northern and Latin America, later research on Europe and partly on countries in Middle-Eastern Europe. It must be noted that recent research on populism is mostly conducted from western-dominated perspectives. However, the “language factor” may not be decisive but plays a marginal role.20 Thus, this chapter can be divided in three sub-categories with the following procedural planning:
In the first sub-chapter a definition of populism is worked out by presenting the scientific debate and current state of research about populism at first. By examining the irregular evolvement of populism , the very roots are presented, as well as clear examples of populist parties show the character of so-called New Populism , which is confrontational in style and claims to represent the long-ignored people.21 It will be shown that, rather than a consistent definition, there is a potpourri of different understandings, interpretations and, thus, definitions, which is why opposing theories and conceptualizations are coexisting. Because of this different understanding, the very scientific concept of populism itself is debated.22 However, three main definitional approaches of populism can be identified in the past decade: populism is either labelled as an ideology, as a strategy or as a discursive pattern.23 The main concepts of populism will be presented to understand the complexity of the research objective. It will be shown, how the approaches differ, and which concept seems most applicable here. However, the problem of conceptual stretching in comparative studies has been pointed out by Sartori earlier, which leads to a rather “vague, amorphous conceptualization.”24 The term populism seems to be vulnerable for this stretching, which leads to elusiveness rather than clarification.25
The following sub-chapter provides a clear distinction between various forms of populism, populist parties and populist rhetoric, as well as concrete examples are given. Theoretical findings will show the inner relation of right-wing ideology and populist ideol- ogy.26 In some cases, this form of populism had led “to processes of de-democratization [...] or even to the breakdown of the democratic regime [...].”27 Moreover, the distinction between populism and neo-populism is necessary to detach the original term populism from its negative connotation, which is often used as a political weapon as well.28 Finally, certain criteria of a populist party can be worked out, as well as its characteristics, since an understanding of voters and ideology of populist parties' is key to arrive at a working definition. It will be shown that the claim of vox populi, meaning that the party speaks for the entire people, is key to populist parties. These findings will provide the fundament for the analytical part of this thesis. By combining findings of the previous sub-chapters , answers to of the first two research questions are given.
1.1. Of Origins and Fundaments
The concept of populism is highly contested and differently interpreted, categorized and topologized. Furthermore, the phenomenon of populism “tends to be equated, and sometimes conflated”29 in different parts in the world, which hinders a coherent understanding.
However, to arrive at a working definition it seems plausible to understand the very root of the term and its development.
Deriving from the Latin word populus (engl. people) the term populism “has [by immemorial tradition] meant both the whole political community and some smaller group within it.”30 It was firstly used in 1891 in reference to the American Populist Party, also known as People's Party.31 Criticizing the financial dominance of capitalists, the party promoted mainly political issues of farmers and workers. While the party was of short life only, the term itself outlasted to be understood as a general “type of politics”32, claiming to represent the views of ordinary people. Also, in Russia the word appeared in reference to an unsuccessful agrarian agenda under the term narodnichestvo ( engl. peopleism). Deriving from the word narod (engl. the people), the idealistic and revolutionary movement of the Narodniki ( engl. Narodniks) sought to revolt against the hardship of the peasantry by the Tsarist regime in the 1870s.33 Hence, both early populist movements stemmed from agrarian movements and claimed to speak for “the people”: While the American Populist Party claimed to speak on behalf of the majority of people itself34, the Narodniks used their slogan “going to the people” to claim the peasant as the very source of morality.35 However, both had quite different political visions. The US Populists glorified a hard-working rural worker in opposition to the natural rural institutions, fighting industrial capitalism and praise of Slavic heritage by the Narodniks.36 Both movements “were more likely to be located on the left of the party spectrum.”37
Several findings may arise while glancing at these two early populist movements: Firstly, both succeeded with different emphases as a consequence of the diverse contexts in which they arose, even if they were parallel versions of populism.38 Secondly, by examining the People's Party, Goodwyn finds that populism itself needs a “populistic moment” to be activated; this moment is given if the speed of modernization is too quick for society and people cannot cope with the transformational process.39 Thirdly, transformational times seem to foster the “populistic moment”. Fourthly, the pattern of claiming the political power of the people as unity against an elite, paves the way for legitimation of populism: The so-claimed representation of the majority and fully-sovereign people aims to retrieve power as they see themselves in opposition to the authorities.
For long, most of the research about populism focused on the region of Latin America in the 1930s, when several urban-populist movements arose.40 While the cases of the US Populist Party as well as the Narodniks are seen as foundational cases of populism, the first wave of “classic populism” refers to populism in Latin America from the 1930s up to the 1950s.41 This kind of populism mostly consisted of diverging components as like the claim for equality of political rights and universal participation for the common people, but fused with some sort of authoritarianism often under charismatic leadership.42 On the one hand, this first phase of populism was ambivalent towards liberal democracy by including previously excluded groups into the political system, but on the other hand it refused limitations of liberal constitutional principles.43 This period was followed by the second wave of “neoliberal populism”, which emerged in the 90s in Latin America as well (which is why the region is “the geographical macro-area that has registered the highest prevalence of populisms in contemporary history.”44 ) Especially socialist reforms were emphasized in antagonism to capitalism, also being labelled as “Left Turn Popu- lism”.45
Just from the 1980s the term “populism” also became relevant in Europe and was mostly used in a negative connotation directed to right-wing populism. However, right-wing populism must not be confused with the extreme right and labeling both as identical ignores differences over scope and timescale.46 In fact, according to von Beyme, three evolving phases of populism can be observed after 1945 in Europe:47 Firstly, directly after the war extreme-right populist parties were openly claiming neo-fascism, urging “a conservative rural backlash against centralization and politicization of the agricultural sector.”48 However, at that time alignment with the Western states during the Cold War and maintaining the welfare state “left little space for ideological alternatives, and populism was no exception”.49 The second wave came along the oil crisis in 1973 which gave ground for right-wing parties in Europe, this time attempting to avoid open fascism while still being xenophobic, such as the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD). The third wave of populist movements in the 1990s was directed to immigration-fostering globalization and the political expansion of the European Union, both allegedly threatening the sovereignty of nation states. Xenophobic parties emerged and responded to the effects of these transformational processes. After the millennium turn, especially right-wing populism won more votes and was at latest by then a significant topical theme in Western European countries: 17 governments including, or being supported by radical right-wing populist parties between 1990 and 2015 can be observed.50 Most of the populist parties today are right-wing but not necessarily extreme right; also some parties are difficult to place on a left-right spectrum.51 Thus, right-wing populism is understood as a sub-category of populism and refers to parties are right-wing in the sense of their rejection of social equality.52 The following sub-chapter will draw on the differences between right-wing populism and right-wing extremism more in-depth. So far, it can be noted that different waves of populism appeared in Western Europe as well-with the current wave of new populism the rise of right-wing populist parties is apparent.
Also, in the Eastern part of Europe, agrarian movements where inspired by the Narodniki on the one hand but shared a form of agrarian populism quite similar to the Populists in North America, on the other hand. Movements in Poland and other countries after 1918 emphasized self-governance and family property while opposing the urban elite.53 While Canovan investigates different types of this, what she calls “agrarian populism” in the countries of Eastern Europe, she finds not enough overlapping features to unite them under a single political phenomenon.54 These movements were famous in rural parts of Eastern Europe but remained largely excluded from political power in the authoritarian states which were governed by an elite of landowners and the military.55 This was not about to change, especially under communist rule with a strong leader and even stronger bureaucracy in the second half of the 20th century. Speaking of communism, it shares certain features with populism: Greskovits distinguishes seven very similar characteristics between communism and populism regarding economic policies.56 Also, after the breakup of the Soviet Union, populism became relevant in Eastern Europe and former Soviet-controlled countries. Remarkably, in the few countries, in which civil society played a crucial role for the overthrow of the communist regimes such as in East Germany and Poland, populist slogans like “we are the people” were famous in the revolutionary process. While here just a short overview of the various development of populism around the world was provided, the third chapter takes a closer look into populism in Germany and Poland.
As a result of these different developments, the term populism evolved differently. However, while all these populist movements seem to share some common features in discourse, claims and concepts, the political phenomenon itself is rather heterogeneous and may be either left or right, driven by conservative or progressive ideas. But is there any populist ideology including US-American populism of 19th century, as well as the Eastern European agrarian populism, the populism in Latin America and the current populism in Western Europe? How populism can be separated from ideology ?
One of the earliest definitions of populism as a unitary phenomenon and ideology points out the moralization of the antagonistic relation between the people and the ruling others using only two criteria of populism: the priority of the general will and the direct relation between the people and their leaders.57 In 1967, even before the term became relevant in Western Europe, Isaiah Berlin provided a definition by underlining that populist movements result from the reaction to the stresses of rapid economic, social, cultural or political change and are characterized by a “belief in a return to, or adaptation of, more simple and traditional forms and values .”58 However, there is still no definitional consensus about the term in the academic world as just two points of references can be observed: “In other words, populism says something about the relationship between ‘the elite' and ‘the people'”.59 Thus, it seems plausible to present the most common concepts on populism, each with a different definition, rather than laying out all possible approaches. Moreover, before moving on to conceptualizations and theories of populism, it seems worth to outline the reasons of emergence of populism. This may foster the choice of a specific definition which seems to be appropriate for the present goal of research.
Populism is argued to be emerging by a “populist moment”, meaning a situation of crisis and social insecurity. As Mudde argues, populism becomes “active only when there are special circumstances [given].”60 Hence, populist movements emerge in a so-called crisis of modernity when the balance between economic need, social-cultural power sharing and cultural identity is trembled.61 Rapid change cause losses of values and orientation, leading to insecurities, status anxiety and political alienation-all characteristics which can be observed even in the fundamental forms of populist movements as shown above.62 In reference to the definition of I. Berlin above, populist movements have been profiting from social and economic grievances, deepening the polarization of the society. In times of the current wave of new populism in Europe, these cleavages seem to be mostly between nationalistic positions on the one side and cosmopolitan position on the other.63
Attempts have been made to define common dimensions, which set the breeding ground for the appearance of new populism, such as the six-scaled system by Frolich-Steffen:64 First, there must be institutional and systemic factors, such as a legitimacy crisis of de- mocracy.65 Secondly, political-cultural context variables such as transformative changes foster anti-liberal movements since democratic patterns are not enrooted in the society like in post-soviet countries. Thirdly, the existence of a charismatic leader is crucial, who is able to “mobilize the masses and/or conduct their parties with the aim of enacting radical reforms.”66 Fourthly political and sociocultural cleavages contribute to a polarization of society. This can be seen in context with the fifth characteristic which gives room for populism to emerge: situational political occasions such as a political scandal or a lack of political fragmentation. This factor is not to be confused with the first one, since it refers to situational and non-systemic crises, even if both factors undermine the legitimacy of the representative democracy in general. As a sixth characteristic, politics finds more way into entertainment by medializing or personalization.
So, who is populist then? Speaking with Dahrendorf: “the one's populism, is the other one's democracy, and vice versa.”67 Besides, it's worth noting that the success of populist cannot only be measured in number of votes, but also in agenda-setting or policy impact.68 However, investigating the reasons for success and failure does not serve the research objective here.69
For post-soviet countries it has been argued that the transformational clash from a communist system to a European-like post-industrial democracy fostered the rise of populism as a lack of political culture for democracy can be observed. Skolkay argues that the legacy of communism in the political culture has set a breeding ground for voters in favor for populist parties, may it be an impatience for politics with the tendency for radical solutions or weak moral values. This historical legacy of communism at first convened with the transformational changes in post-soviet countries. Secondly, economic reforms, societal changes and political disorientation added up to the political culture under soviet rule. However, by pointing out an historical-shaped claim to nationhood “more symbolically, or, if you will, emotionally”70 Skolkay stresses the need to determine the unique historical context in the investigation of populism in each country. Also underlining the need to examine populism based on the context variables differently than in Western Europe, Pirro works out six specific fields which define right-wing populists in MiddleEastern Europe.71 The second chapter will draw on the inadmissible investigation of the specific background of each country, within populism arose. Before, main concepts of populism are being presented, within with the countries' analysis will be embedded.
1.2. Approaches to the Phenomenon
What populism is all about? What exactly it means when it was referred to new populism ? Apparently, there must be at least defining characteristics if populism can be traced back to its origin as well as temporal and regional waves can be determined. It has already been pointed out that there seems to be no academic consensus about the definition of the term populism itself but just vague concepts referring to an antagonistic relationship between the elite and the people. Hence, also “all attempts at a general theory of populism have failed.”72 In fact, much of the literature about populism focusses on defining the phenomenon itself.73 This is often provided by findings of case-studies, which have then been tried to include in some general theoretical framework.74 However, these inductive findings also require theoretical and definitional “fact finding containers”75 to avoid trivial characteristics. In opposition to the case studies at the lowest level of the ladder of abstraction stands the perspective of an object, the dimension in which a term is understood. Here lays the main difference in the contested concepts of populism as so far just a key relationship between the people and the powerful is defining. However, this still leaves the question “of what populism is: an ideology, a syndrome, a political movement or a political style?”76 This differentiation of perspectives on populism seems crucial here to provide theories, definitions and eventually types of populism. Three different doctrinal approaches can be identified, when focusing on recent debates:77 first, populism as a strategy, second as an ideology style and third, as a discursive style, as Gidron and Boni- kowski suggest.78 Diehl confirms these three main dimensions and goes even beyond by providing a set of components which is most apparent in the scientific findings of each dimensional approach.79 Keeping these fundamental academic trends in mind, the main theories of populism will be provided next. It was chosen to provide an overview of the following concepts not only because they can be considered as the most significant in research on populism but also because these serve the need for conducting this research of populism on parties in Germany and in Poland the best. This also means that several key theories have also been left out or will just be shortly mentioned, even if the relevance in the academic world is given.
First, the understanding of populism as a political strategy is presented. While focusing on organizations and strategies this approach provides, in its very core, a relative definition of populism. According to that, especially social interactions are key to understand populism. Secondly, the understanding of Cas Mudde, a “key populism researcher”80 is presented. He understands populism foremost as a thin-centered ideology, which necessarily requires a thick-centered ideology to go along with. This influential definition was suggested in studies mainly concentrating on European right-wing populist parties. It's in so far applicable here as it focusses on the region of this research but also on the contrast between the people and the elite. Thirdly, populism as a discursive pattern sheds light on the linguistic factor: By doing that, the specific factor of populism as a style of communication is revealed, opening the perspective for terminological issues. The approaches are not mutually excluding but can also benefit from each other perspectives. Better said, these approaches offer different accesses to understand the phenomena of populism, to draw conclusive typologies and definitions from that.
Trying to distinguish different forms of populism, Canovan defined in 1981 agrarian populism and political populism as the two fundamental strands of the phenomena, which are then divided into a seven-fold typology.81 At this time, she finds that all these variants of populism, were “not reducible so a single core”82, which she later refuted as a common feature would be only populist rhetoric.83 Thus, while focusing on a typology and the history of populism, Canovan does not provide a general definition of what populism actually is: “Paradoxically, she concluded that while different types of populism could be distinguished, populism per se could not.”84 However, this ““most ambitious attempts to get to grips with populism”85 set the fundament for understanding populism as a political strategy ass Taggart built on this comparative approach. While finding that populism per se is incomplete and has an “empty heart”86 he points out five common themes of populism which derive from his understanding of populism as a heartland. According to him, the heartland is an “idealized conception of the community they serve place [.] in which, in the populist imagination, a virtuous and unified population resides.”87 Since populism has no core values, it must always be understood in relation to the specific version of a heartland: “Populists mobilize when their heartland is threatened not when a heartland is threatened.”88 That's why also a uniting term as the people would be misleading, since it would actually refer only to the particular populace of the particular heartland. This idealized construction of a heartland is romanticized and often an ahistorical conception referring to ethnic and cultural homogeneity.
This understanding of populism as a heartland is often used by political scientists favoring an approach to populism as a political strategy. Populism as such is understood as a form of political organization, highlighting the identity of the leaders and their relation to other political actors.89 Also, Taggart underlines that populist parties are characterized by a centralized organizational structure headed by a strong charismatic leader.90 Populism, understood as a form of mobilization and organization is based on the analytical focus on the social dimension. Social mobilization and inclusion are key and central factors to the strengthening of the strategy, which is why political institutions are regarded as a suppressive tool by populists-a plebiscitarian decision making is preferred here. Populism is therefore a dynamic of social consensus and configuration of political power.91 Weylandt refers to the social interaction when he defines populism as a political strategy which aims power though a leader who himself is supported by “mostly unorganized followers.”92 Hence, the strategical approach of populism often investigates personality characteristics of political leaders and tries to reveal the social interactions within populist organizations. This can be accounted not only for parties but for political mobilization itself: For instance, rather than seeing populism as a stable ideology, Jansen argues that populism can be regarded as a political project with a wide-ranged agenda. According to him, populism could be best defined as “any sustained, large-scale political project that mobilizes ordinarily marginalized social sectors into publicly visible and contentious political action, while articulating an anti-elite, nationalist rhetoric that valorizes ordinary people”93 Here, the strategic approach overlaps with an understanding of populism as a form of discursive pattern. However, it does neither provide a common normative character of populism nor does it reveal an ideological mindset behind populist movements or parties. Diehl defines four core elements by which literature on populism with a strategical approach is determined and with which the intensity of populism as a strategy can be meas- ured:94
- Denial of political institutions
- Plebiscitarian decision making
- Direct involvement of the people on political issues by having a high grade of mobilization
- Direct and hierarchic relation between the leader and the people
Drawing on Canovan, Cas Mudde typologies three different populist strands: agrarian, economic and political populism. In contrary, Mudde finds a common feature of populism, suggesting an ideological conceptualization. Building up on Taggart's conception of populism as heartland, Mudde endorses a rather relative character of populism. According to him, populism itself is not a real matter in the Aristotelian sense and does not impose a peculiar value system but requires an additional frame of reference. Even if populism can only be determined in reference to an acute opponent, the ideological framework would be based on a vertical axe between the people and the elite. Around this axis a bundle of non-variable ideas is grouped, which are morally anchored-but not politically. Populism itself is a thin-centered ideology, which is to be combined with very different other thick-centered ideologies.95 An ideology itself is a “body of normative ideas about the nature of man and society as well as the organization and purposes of society”.96 This vision of how the world should be can be a distinct ideology with a somewhat level of intellectual refinement and consistency as, for example, liberalism or socialism could be. These thick-centered, or “full” ideologies are in opposition to thin-centered ideologies such as populism, which itself consists of a limited morphology only. Thus, populism necessarily appears in reference to another ideology, exhibiting “a restricted core attached to a narrower range of political concepts.”97 As a thin-centered ideology, populism can be found across ideological cleavages, fused with both left- or right-wing appeals. However, “which ideological features attach to populism depend upon the socio-political context within which the populist actors mobilize.”98 Preceded by these clarifications, Mudde states a distinct definition for populism:
“I define populism as an ideology that considers society to be ultimately separated into two homogeneous and antagonistic groups, ‘the pure people' versus ‘the corrupt elite', and which argues that politics should be an expression of the volonte generale (general will) of the people . Populism, so defined, has two opposites: elitism and pluralism.”99
From this definition, three core concepts of populism can be extracted: the people, the elite plus also the general will. Populism as an ideology divides society into two homogeneous but antagonistic groups: “the (pure) people” versus “the (corrupt) elite,” and that holds that politics should be an expression of “the general will”.100
The core of populism is the normative term “the people”. Understood as a notion, by the people it's implied that all those native to a specific country are meant, and that together they form a community with a common life. Referring to the concept of imagined communities by Anderson 101 , Mudde finds that “the concept of the heartland [by Taggart] helps to emphasize that the people in the populist propaganda are neither real nor all- inclusive but are in fact a mythical and constructed sub-set of the whole population.”102 However, as the people equates “with the population of an existing state [it] has proven to be a complicated task, particularly because different ethnic groups exist on the same territory.”103 In opposition to the people stands the elite, which is the political opponent of any thin-centered populism as it works against the general will of the people. The elite can be best defined based on the power, including the one who are in leading position in various sectors, such as in economy or culture.104 Understood like that, populism is fundamental anti-establishment. Given the separation between the people and the elite is both moral and ethnic, populism can be integrated into nationalistic politics. Even if the elite itself is “native”, it would be acting in the interest of aliens and, hence, against the people - an argumentation often brought up by xenophobic populists as later examination shows.
The general will is the third core extract of Mudde's definition and alludes to a particular conception of the political. Jean-Jacque Rousseau distinguished between the general will (volonte generale) and the will of all (volonte de tous). The first relates to people's ability to form a community and legislate to enforce their common interest. The latter refers to the simple sum of individual interests at a given point in time. The monistic and moral distinction of populism between the pure people and the corrupt elite reinforces the notion that there is a general will.105 By using the notion of the general will, populists tend to share the critique of representative government which is inherent in Rousseau's conception. Hence, “giving back” the government to the people would be a current slogan of populists. Addressing the interests of the “common” people is decisive for populists as they claim to speak for a majority. This anti-elitist impetus allows fundamental criticism of “the system” including political parties, institutions or even bureaucracy.
An understanding of populism as a thin-centered ideology requires not only these three main features of populist but also at least one other ideology. Such a taxonomy states that populism is the primary, not the secondary, concept. Populism as such is not the qualifier, but the classifier. In the first understanding, populism is noted as an adjective (e.g. populist), serving to qualify another primary concept. Indeed, there are more features of populism and its actors, but these would be secondary: For instance, populist parties tend to have a charismatic leader, or a concrete concept of the political enemy. However, these features are sufficient -and not necessary-conditions, which is why they are been explained here in detail.
According to Diehl, research findings following the ideational approach on populism have shown a clear set of components which are appearing most often and hence are central for populism, as for example:
- Idealization of the people
- The construction of a clear (political) opponent
- Anti-liberal attitude
- Central figure of the leader
- Proclamation of a crisis due to fraud on society by the elite106
The advantages of the ideational approach of populism is that it offers a clear distinction between populist and non-populist, both for quantitative and qualitative studies which is key for conceptualization.107 However, difficulties appear to clearly measure to which degree an actor is populist. The following discursive approach of populism tries to extend this “either-or” criteria to conceptualize the extend of populism.
As well, it can be argued that populism is best to understand as a discursive pattern which enables a linear assessment of populism rather than just pinpointing on a binary scale if an actor is populist or not.108 The discursive dimension and understanding of populism find that language is key to understand the phenomena, impact and nature of populism. Hence, characteristics of discourse are the unit of research. One of the first for that was Laclau, who understands populism foremost as a neutral concept being based on relational empty signifiers which gain meaning through a process of identification.109 However, examining in-depth his multi-dimensional work and the interpretations would improperly overextend this research on hand, but it can be marked out that Laclau deconstructed the term of populism and pointed out that populism is in fact an anti-status-quo discourse and part of a struggle over hegemony and power. Populism, according to him, does not go along with an ideological connotation and can be both progressive and conservative. Even if his Marxist-influenced approach was aimed on the region of Latin America, the general understanding of populism as a communicative pattern affected further works and is applicable to other regions. Building on that, De la Torre defines populism as a “rhetoric that constructs politics as the moral and ethical struggle between el pueblo (the people) and the oligarchy. Populist discourse transmutes politics into a struggle for moral values without accepting compromise or dialogue with the oppo- nent.”110
Also, Aslanidis exemplifies populism as a discourse by investigating techniques of communication and frames in political communication, both aiming to confecting the public sphere.111 By understanding populism as a specific type of anti-elite discourse, Aslanidis manages to offer a gradated view and quantifies the extent of populism in social movements based on a text analysis.112
Both strands, populism as an ideological approach and as a discursive pattern can also be combined, as Pauwels proves.113 In fact, the so-called ideational approach by Mudde can even be interpreted in close relationship with the theoretical findings of Laclau, though the understanding and definition of populism is very different.114 What makes the discursive approach particular is the access to populism. Applying a discursive approach to populism reveals that it is a rhetorical macro-device operating in an attempt to overturn the people's subalternity to the dominant social class. As in both other approaches, the juxtaposition between the people and the elite is key to this trend. It may be argued that the anti-establishment identity of the people, their awareness and action are the social result of a specific communicative strategy.115 Again, Diehl finds a distinct set of components which are key for the discursive approach on populism, as for example:116
- Use of simple and non-complex language such as short sentences
- Claim to be legitimized by the people, as formulated in “we” against “them”
- Emotionalization and dramatization
- Insulting the political opponent
However, rather than just providing clear criteria for populist actors, the discursive investigates the character of language and it's use. For instance, researching the populistic discourse in Austria, Reisigl distinguishes principles of populist language.117 As well, Panizza determines populists by their rhetoric, finding that populistic leaders present themselves as the main medium for expressing the will of the people and position themselves as a “political figure who seeks to be at the same time one of the people and their leader.”118 Populism per se is then understood as a specific use of language and is, thus, a linear phenomenon.
Gidron and Bonikowski point out that the three approaches to study populism have their differences but do also have overlapping points and connections.119 However, single cases also prove that a political party may be considered as populist in one dimension, but as non-populist in the other.120 Whatever dimension or concept is chosen by a research on populism, it has been shown that the key for understanding the phenomenon is a distinct definition. This definition arises from the chosen approach. The phenomena of populism and, hence, the definitions are applicable to every form of populism: on populist parties as well as on movements, on far-right as well as on left-wing populism. Thus, the current working definition has to be worked out more precisely by connecting the dimensional approach with the current wave of neo-populism, which is prevalent at this time in Europe, as explained above. However, the approaches differ in the unit and aim of research: While both the ideological and strategical approach are applicable to a binary decision as to whether a political organization can be qualified as populist, the discursive approach provides a linear assessment.
1.3. New Populism
So far, the term populism was theoretically approached, making it possible to understand the origins and development of the term, as well as its wide-ranging definitions. As it was shown, populism is not necessarily connected to a specific political direction as for example in Latin America populism was mostly meant for socialistic left-wing movements. More precisely, populism can be regarded as a way of competing for power and making politics.121 Populism itself features different characteristics, like the emphasize of a charismatic leadership in the Weberian sense or a specific use of language and antagonism;122 but populism is not bound to a specific political orientation, or, speaking with Mudde, thick-ideology. However, this paper on hand focusses on right-wing populism, which is why some limitations are being made here. The choice to focus on right-wing variations of populism may not be surprising as Dahrendorf points out that topics of demagogic populism are often classical right-wing themes.123 Also Decker confirms that, if the issue is about a genuine populist party, mostly right-wing populism is meant.124 Mudde finds that, “today, populism is again mainly associated with the (radical) right.”125 However, it is crucial to determine between extreme-right politics and populism itself. As Beyme points out, given that especially in Anglo-Saxon literature, populist parties enlisted under the term PEP (populist extremist parties)126 proves that, “the difference [...] between populism and right-wing extremism was not recognized.”127 One reason for that may be that the third wave of populism in the mid-1980s in Europe brought mostly populist parties with a right-wing agenda into power. In this third wave of new populism PEPs showed an uneven but noticeable effect from the edges right into the mainstream.128 Hence, being more precise about the political orientation of populism-which is at the center of this paper on-hand-the term national populism offers a way out from the cleavages of political orientation going along with populism itself. Surely, both left-populism as well as right-populism may fulfill the fundamental feature to claim to speak for the people, but the particular kind of populism lies in the programmatic orientation of the respective populist party.
Lang distinguishes not only between left and right populism but also between “hard” and “soft” populism.129 According to him, national populism is a “hard type” of populism, under which he understands a generic type for right-wing populist parties which are difficult to range on a two-dimensional political scale:
“National populists prioritize the culture and interests of the nation and promise to give voice to a people who feel that they have been neglected, even held in contempt, by distant and often corrupt elites.”130
The difficulty for ranging on a simple political scale esteems from the fact that national populism is often a combination of populist programmatic with both “almost socialist conception of the Welfare state”131 for the (homogenous) people of their own state as well as protective measures for them against globalized capitalism. However, it is crucial to distinguish between extreme right and radical right, as Eatwell shows.132 The extreme right is characterized by a rejection of democracy and comprises authoritarians who do not tolerate the liberal-democratic exchange of political perspectives and aim a non-dem- ocratic and protective political system. On the other hand, thee radical right criticizes certain aspects of liberal democracy but not the democratic system itself. Indeed, often even a direct democratic system is favored, bringing politics closer to the people. The main difference between the “new”, current, radical right populism, and the old extreme right nationalistic superior way of thinking, is, in fact, the acceptance of a human particularism, granting a general right of diversity and races to all people. Just, the difference lies in the scale. This reinterpretation, which marks the main difference, is associated with a thoroughly contemporary notion of cultural and political autonomy of the societies. Decker notes, that this theoretical re-foundation considers current conflicts of identity- due to migration movements and a change in the composition of the population-to be primarily found within and among societies.133 In the defense of a feared aggression from the outside, any form of ethnic and progressive cultural commingling is being rejected. This adherence to the “pure” nation corresponds to the concept of a power-prioritized and communitarian state, which is emplaced against the prevailing pluralism.134 In so far, radical right-wing populism negates an all-encompassing individual and social equality for all inhabitants but only for natives. They see a threat in the political disempowerment of the people by the elite through a decay of their certain cultural identity. Mudde describes this central feature under the term nativism which means a natural affiliation of the people and their privileges of natives, as against strangers: nativism can be understood as a combination of nationalism and xenophobia as it is “an ideology, which holds that states should be inhabited exclusively by members of the native group (“the nation”) and that non-native elements (persons and ideas) are fundamentally threatening to the homogeneous nation-state.”135 Akkermann et al. concludes that nativism translated into programmatic positions, “leads to anti-immigration stances, and in recent years, to anti-European Union and anti-Islam stances.”136 According to them, especially since the turn of the millennium, the focus has shifted to Islam as a non-native religion in Western Europe. The nativist critique on Islam stems from the claim that Islamic values would be contrary to Western liberal democratic values, such as emancipation, equality or freedom of expression. Parties with this feature can be put into the category of neo-populism which resulted of political dynamic and profound transformative changes in the globalization process.137 These parties protest against a claimed consensus among new elite calling for more integration and multiethnic societies to form the vision of a cosmopolitan Europe: “This convergence created a fertile breeding ground for populism, as many voters began to see political elites as indistinguishable from one another, regardless of their party affilia- tions.”138
1.4. Interim Conclusion
As a preliminary conclusion it was elaborated that radical right populism, or also rightwing populism, is a predominant occurrence within the third wave of populism in Europe, called new populism. Not to be confused with extreme right positions because of its non- democratic attempts, radical right populism tends to carry the feature of nativism, thus being named national populist. Understood like that, it fits into the concept of populism as a thin-centered ideology, requiring a thick-centered counterpart. This paper asks for a “common populist spirit” of two different parties. To investigate if both parties, the German Alternative fur Deutschland and the Polish Prawo i Sprawiedliwosc can be determined as right-wing populist parties, the second chapter will deal with the parties and their particular ideology in accordance with the previous findings about populism. This aims to “thicken” the thin-centered ideology of both, which is to be determined as well. Then, the third chapter uses the ideological approach to examine an estimated commonality of populist character.
The conceptual approach of populism in this paper on-hand applies the understanding of populism as an ideology. Before the thick-centered ideological character of right-wing populism is examined, the thin-centered ideology of populism requires an analyze of the parties. In combination with the nativist character and the features of right-wing populist parties within the ideological approach a comparison is possible, as to whether both parties share a populist spirit to whatever extent. Hence, the primary feature of populism is scrutinized as well as secondary right-wing features such as the construction of an enemy. Labelling refugees as a “Muslim invasion force”139, as Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban illustrates the constructed combination of the people as native and homogenous which are under threat against them, a hostile non-compatible foreign culture. In entire Europe, “it seems certain that immigration has fostered both right-wing populism and right-wing extremism.”140 Not surprisingly, to preserve cultural identity, economic stability and security, also other political parties promoting non-European migration are regarded as opponent for the entire people. It must be noted that for all forms of populism, the ideologized fundament of the people as a homogenous entity is an identity-generating ideal.141 Thus, populism is always an ideology of dissociation. The exclusion affects groups who don't belong to the populist definition of “the people”, thus mostly ethnic, cultural or religious minorities or groups of different political views as left-wing or green political movements. However, as mentioned, Muslim refugees qualify as a constructed enemy for right-wing populists on different levels. With reference to real existing prob- lems-radicalization or integration may be mentioned here-they may be put under general suspicion. The warning of a “Muslim takeover” of the Christian occident happens on the base of a Eurocentric worldview, not a purely racist one. Rather than an integrative attempt it is aimed to exclude foreign cultures or even deport them. Both research questions which have guided this chapter can be answered as provided in the overall conclusion.
1 Bloomberg 2018
2 Vick and Shuster 2015
3 Smale and Erlanger 2016
4 Smale and Erlanger 2016
5 Vick and Shuster 2015
6 E.g. Social Democratic parties in most European countries
7 Decker 2017c, 34
8 Berbuir, Lewandowsky and Siri 2015
9 Beyme 2019
10 Anselmi 2018
11 Ignazi 2010
12 Mudde 1996
13 Mudde and Rovira Kaltwasser 2017, 1
14 Anselmi 2018, 3
15 Canovan 2004, 241
16 Rovira Kaltwasser et al. 2017
17 Mudde and Rovira Kaltwasser 2017, 14
18 Anselmi 2018, 46-47
19 Mudde and Rovira Kaltwasser 2017, 40-41
20 As like in the wording for example: the etymological root of populism-the term people -may be understood differently in Polish, German or English. In this work the people refer to the autochthonous native people: not like in German (die Bevolkerung vs. das Volk) or Polish (ludnosc vs. narod) the English language does not provide this distinct difference.
21 Canovan 2004, 241
22 Decker 2017a, 21; The definition of the problem populism may be even regarded as a specific subfield of populism studies, see Anselmi 2018, 3
23 Priester 2011, 185
24 Sartori 1970, 1034.
25 Priester 2011, 187
26 Decker 2017a, 10
27 Mudde and Rovira Kaltwasser 2017, 96
28 Decker 2017a, 10.
29 Mudde and Rovira Kaltwasser 2017, 2
30 Canovan 2004
31 Mudde 2004, 548
32 Hornby et al. 2008, 1171
33 Mudde and Rovira Kaltwasser 2017, 32
34 Goodwyn 1976, 65
35 Mudde 2002, 35
36 Goodwyn 1976, 182
37 Beyme 2019, 27
38 Rovira Kaltwasser et al. 2017, 4
39 Goodwyn 1978, 65
40 Rovira Kaltwasser et al. 2017, 23
41 La Torre 2017, 182
42 Germani 1978, 88
43 La Torre 2017, 184
44 Anselmi 2018, 60
45 Cameron 2010
46 Beyme 2019, 29
47 Beyme 1988, 8
48 Mudde and Rovira Kaltwasser 2017, 33
49 Mudde 2016a, 26
50 Akkerman and et al. 2016, 20
51 Mudde 2016a, 27
52 Beyme 2019, 3
53 Taggart 2000, 18
54 Canovan 1981, 133
55 Mudde and Rovira Kaltwasser 2017, 33
56 Greskovits 1998, 106; However, communism as a whole is rather an elitist ideology than populist: in particular the of “class struggle” and, “false conscienceless” are antithetical to populism, see Mudde and Rovira Kaltwasser 2017, 33
57 Shils 1956, 98
58 Berlin 1968, 179.
59 Mudde 2004, 543
60 Mudde 2004, 547
61 Dubiel 1986, 47
62 Decker and Lewandowsky 2017, 23
63 Frolich-Steffen/Rensmann 2005, 17
64 Frolich-Steffen/Rensmann 2005, 13
65 The relation between populism and democracy is explorated in the end of this chapter.
66 Mudde and Rovira Kaltwasser 2017, 62
67 Quote from Mudde 2004, 543
68 Mudde and Rovira Kaltwasser 2017, 98-99
69 Decker 2017b provides a good overview
70 Skolkay 2000, 5
71 Pirro 2014
72 Beyme 2019, 27 (Italic in org.)
73 Rovira Kaltwasser et al. 2017, 23
74 Priester 2011, 187
75 Sartori 1970
76 Mudde 2004, 543 (Italic in org.)
77 Anselmi 2018, 6
78 Gidron and Bonikowski 2013
79 Diehl 2011, 278-289
80 Beyme 2019, 27
81 Canovan 1981
82 Canovan 1981, 298
83 Canovan 2006, 552
84 Rovira Kaltwasser et al. 2017, 43
85 Taggart 2000, 18
86 Taggart 2004, 275
87 Taggart 2000, 95
88 Taggart 2004, 275
89 Gidron and Bonikowski 2013, 10
90 Taggart 2000
91 Anselmi 2018, 45
92 Weyland 2001, 14
93 Jansen 2011, 82
94 Diehl 2011, 288-289
95 Mudde, 2004, 545
96 Mudde and Rovira Kaltwasser 2017, 6
97 Mudde 2004, 544
98 Mudde and Rovira Kaltwasser 2017, 2
99 Mudde 2004, 543 [italic in original]
100 Mudde 2016b
101 Anderson 1991
102 Mudde 2004, 546
103 Mudde and Rovira Kaltwasser 2017, 11
104 Mudde and Rovira Kaltwasser 2017, 12
105 Mudde and Rovira Kaltwasser 2017, 16
106 Diehl 2011, 282
107 Sartori 1970 / for quantitative see: Pauwels 2011; for qualitative see: Mudde 2007
108 Degan-Krause and Haughton 2009
109 Laclau 2005, 68-71
110 La Torre 2000, 4
111 Anselmi 2018, 50
112 Aslanidis 2018
113 Pauwels 2011
114 Mudde and Rovira Kaltwasser 2017, 30
115 Anselmi 2018, 49
116 Diehl 2011, 287
117 Reisigl 2002
118 Panizza 2005, 21
119 Gidron and Bonikowski 2013, 14
120 Diehl 2011, 290
121 Eatwell and Goodwin 2018, 48
122 Tucker 2016, 735
123 Dahrendorf 2007, 2 [Orig. in German, transl. by author]
124 Decker 2004, 29
125 Mudde 2004, 549
126 Goodwin 2012, 1
127 Beyme 2019, 35
128 Beyme 1988
129 Lang 2005
130 Eatwell and Goodwin 2018, 8
131 Beyme 2019, 32
132 Eatwell and Goodwin 2018, 62
133 Decker 2004, 31
134 Taguieff 1994
135 Mudde 2007, 19
136 Akkerman et al. 2016, 5
137 Anselmi 2018, 45
138 Mudde 2016a
139 Eatwell and Goodwin 2018, 46
140 Beyme 2019, 11
141 Canovan 2002