The Central and Eastern European Case

  • Andrea LP Pirro, University of Siena

The recent electoral performances of the Bulgarian Ataka, Hungarian Jobbik, and the Slovak National Party seem to confirm the pervasive appeal of the populist radical right in Central and Eastern Europe. Unlike their Western counterparts, these parties do not stem from a ‘silent counter-revolution’. Populist radical right parties in the region retain features sui generis, partly in relation to their historical legacies and the idiosyncrasies of the post-communist context.

After distinguishing between pre-communist, communist and post-communist issues, this article discerns commonalities and differences in the ideology of the three parties by a content analysis of the party literatures. The analysis shows that populist radical right parties in Central and Eastern Europe are fairly ‘like minded’, yet they do not constitute an entirely homogeneous group.

The Italian 5 Star MoVement’s first European Parliament elections: In Europe for Italy

  • Simona Guerra, the University of Leicester

Twenty years after the ‘Clean Hands Affair’ (1992), in May 2012, the 5 Star MoVement (MoVimento 5 Stelle: M5S), outside the established Italian political system, viewed its candidate, Federico Pizzarotti, successfully run the second round of the election to finally swear into office as mayor of Parma, a 200 thousands city in the heart of the Italian red belt. In December 2012, after the centre-left held the primaries to choose its candidate in the 2013 general elections, the MoVement held the first online primaries and sky-rocketed as the second political party in the polls with 18.5 per cent of the preferences (Pagnoncelli, 4 December 2012). A few months later, in February 2013, the 5 Star MoVement surprised political commentators and gained 25.6 per cent of the votes, resulting as the most voted political party at the general elections.

The 2014 European Parliament elections represented the first European elections for Beppe Grillo and the Eurosceptic Five Star MoVement. In their electoral campaign, the little crickets banged their fists on the table, sought to defend ‘Italy’s interests in Europe’, and their Eurosceptic tones showed closeness to the past Northern League Euroscepticism. In Grillo’s words, with the fiscal compact, agreed in July 2012, ‘Italy received the death sentence’. This analysis follows and examines the European electoral campaign tone of the MoVement and its Euroscepticism to analyse the degrees and quality of its opposition to the EU integration process and how this is vocalized in the MoVement political discourse.

A European Youth Against Europe? Identity and Europeanness in the Austrian 'Identitarian' Discourse

  • Stefanie Mayer, Birgit Sauer, The University ofVienna

The paper (developed in the framework of the European e-EAV project) explores the discursive constructions of 'Europe' and 'Europeanness' by the 'Identitarian Movement Austria' in order to understand the specific notion of 'identity' at play. Broadly following ideas developed by the French 'Bloc Identitaire' informal youth groups rallying under the 'Lambda'-sign first emerged in the Austrian public in autumn 2012.

The 'identitarian' mélange appears to be a successful attempt of merging ideological elements of right-wing extremism, the 'New Right' and contemporary youth culture. In a quite ironic way their agitation against globalisation, cosmopolitanism, multiculturalism and feminism makes use of the means of communication, symbols and styles of globalised consumer culture. Their fierce criticism of the EU is in line with populist discourses in a number of European states. But interestingly this criticism is complemented by a pro-European stance, which differs markedly from the German nationalistic ideology of traditional right-wing extremism in Austria. Their discourse also fosters new alliances across national borders, which include hereditary enemies of Austrian right-wing extremists like groups from Czech Republic or Italy.

The paper analyses the meanings and references that constitute the notion of 'Europe' in 'identitarian' discourse, which is a vital part of this modernisation of right-wing extremism. Starting from a European perspective also enables us to understand the different layers of the concept of 'identity' that this political discourse is based on and to see how the constant (re-) framing of the populist 'we' renders identitarian discourse plausible, flexible and potentially attractive – especially for young people.

National Action: Neo-Nazism for the Next Generation?

  • Paul Jackson, Northampton University

This short presentation examines the ideology of the tiny, extremist group National Action. It will assess its development of an extreme direct action politics, one designed to attract a new generation of radicalised, youthful, and ideologically committed supporters. It differs from movements such as the English Defence League in the depth of its engagement with a wider tradition of fascist and neo-fascist ideologies.

Moreover, the presentation will focus on National Action’s attempts to develop a radical aesthetic style, one that is influences by neo-fascist movements in eastern Europe and Greece too. It will conclude that, by itself, National Action is likely to remain an insignificant group, yet when placed within a wider context of contemporary groupuscules tapping into a fascist past, it can be seen as an indicator of the continued vitality in the small, neo-Nazi tradition that has developed in Britain since 1945.

'Liking' Extremism: Exploratory mapping of populist youth support on social media

  • Mark Littler, University of Central Lancashire

Abstract: Forthcoming     

Who is the enemy? Analysing the anti-establishment discourse of populist parties through Twitter

  • Stijn van Kessel, Loughborough University & Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf
  • Remco Castelein, Radboud University Nijmegen

Several studies have focused on the nature or electoral performance of populist parties, which are characterised by their opposition to the ‘elites’. Less attention has been spent to the way populist parties construct their anti-establishment appeal; it is often simply assumed that such parties perceive the ‘elite’ as a homogeneous entity.

By means of two often identified cases of populism in the Netherlands (the radical right Freedom Party and radical left Socialist Party) this study shows how the criticism of populist parties can actually be applied selectively and directed towards certain actors in particular.

Furthermore, the contents of the anti-establishment rhetoric can change over time, depending on the issues dominating the political agenda and the parties’ relationship to the government. The paper presents original data from a content analysis of the populist party leaders’ Twitter messages, and thus also contributes to our understanding of the political use of this medium.

Playing the Blame Game: Gamification, Viral Posters and the British National Party on Facebook

  • Benjamin Lee, University of Leicester

This paper is based on an analysis of viral poster adverts, small and easily-sharable images designed to be propagated over social networks, as used by the British National Party (BNP). Data has been harvested daily from the social networking site Facebook and includes images posted and audience reactions to them.

Using this dataset this paper sets out to: confirm the extensive use of viral poster adverts by the BNP, categorise and analyse the subjects addressed by social posters and to identify audience responses to adverts on different topics. The results show that whilst the BNP favours adverts that target political parties and figures, anti-Muslim adverts provoke the most supportive response from audience members, although only a very small subset of adverts ever achieve widespread dissemination.

This paper contributes to continued debate over the BNP by demonstrating that despite recent electoral defeats they remain vibrant on social media. In addition, this paper aims to contribute to nascent debate over the use of political advertising over social media (viral political advertising) which has far-reaching implications for political communication by all political parties and other campaigning organisations.

Title TBC

  • Alethea Melling, Jenny Lamb, University of Central Lancashire

Abstract forthcoming

Spectrum of Hate: when should a counter-terrorism strategy intervene?

  • Will Baldet, the St Phillips Centre

The Prevent strategy is much-maligned, but what exactly is it trying to do and how does it seek to achieve this? This talk will explore this question in the context of far-right movements and restate the definitions of extremism and radicalisation as laid out in the 2011 iteration of the Prevent strategy. Using real-world examples we will determine where the line is drawn between the tactics of the far-right and the traditional extreme right-wing narratives and ask whether there is an evolving shade of grey with the establishing and reinforcement of ‘counter-jihad movements’ and whether hate crime can (or should) be an effective indicator for future far-right extremists.

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Part of the e-Engagement Against Violence Project (eEAV), funded through the European Commission’s DAPHNE funding stream.