Nationalism and Right-Wing Populism across Europe: a brief overview
The Dutch political scientist Cas Mudde recently said that populism has become ‘the concept that defines our age’, and the electoral surges of right-wing populist parties have been branded a ‘populist zeitgeist’. Yet populism is a slippery concept, featuring both the right and the left: next to right-wing parties such as, among others, the Hungarian Fidesz, the French National Front or the Italian Northern League, also emerged left-wing parties such as Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain, as well as non-ideological anti-establishment actors such as the 5 Stars Movement in Italy. Populism is, however, based on the idea of a fundamental opposition between the ‘the pure people’ and the ‘corrupt elite’ and, populists argue, politics should be an expression of the people’s volonté générale. The phenomenon encompasses both Western and Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries and, even where consolidated, democracy seems to be slowly eroding prompting scholars to talk of a crisis or backslide in democracy.
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