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IP 11: Populism and national political cultures

This research project will investigate the cultural roots of populism in eight selected European countries (Austria, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Sweden, Italy). A long-term analysis over a period of 40 years will be carried out in order to find out whether changes in political, cultural, and media conditions are reflected in different levels and types of populism.

By analyzing manifestations of populist ideology and communication strategies during electoral campaigns – as revealed in party manifestos and the media – the researchers will first map populist ideology across countries and over time, placing it in the context of de-alignment of traditional cleavages (i.e. the end of ideological blocs), EU integration and globalization.

In a second step, they will identify opportunity structures (i.e. political, institutional, cultural and media system elements), that are more or less conducive to manifestations of populist ideology. Historical references to antecedent parties will be made, as will references to how nations and parties present face up to past authoritarian experiences in each country respectively (i.e. the role of different national “pasts”).

Finally, the researchers will explain how these different elements of national political cultures, institutions, political debate, and the media, relate to each other and allow populist issues and claims to flourish.

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Project leader:
Prof. Daniele Caramani, University of Zurich

PhD student:
Luca Manucci, University of Zurich