The majority view within political science is that populism is best understood as a (thin) ideology. We problematize the ideational approach by broadening the scope of analysis, linking populism to the rise of long-term generalized anti-political sentiments, against interpretations that tend to tie the populist wave to conjunctural factors related to recent crises. We argue that the essence of populism lies at the intersection of the ‘material constitution’ of advanced industrial democracies (that is, how macroeconomic governance relates to democratic decision-making) and the feelings of societal alienation that are at the heart of anti-political sentiments. We show the peculiar coexistence of economic turbulence, heralded by the crisis of the cartel party and of the neoliberal economic consensus, and an appeal to a post-democratic ‘virtual politics’ of performed but ineffectual popular sovereignty. The policies of the populist coalition governing Italy in 2018–19 provide a key case to test the relevance of our arguments.

Bread or Circuses? Repoliticization in the Italian Populist Government Experience

Baldini, Gianfranco
;
Giglioli, Matteo
2021

Abstract

The majority view within political science is that populism is best understood as a (thin) ideology. We problematize the ideational approach by broadening the scope of analysis, linking populism to the rise of long-term generalized anti-political sentiments, against interpretations that tend to tie the populist wave to conjunctural factors related to recent crises. We argue that the essence of populism lies at the intersection of the ‘material constitution’ of advanced industrial democracies (that is, how macroeconomic governance relates to democratic decision-making) and the feelings of societal alienation that are at the heart of anti-political sentiments. We show the peculiar coexistence of economic turbulence, heralded by the crisis of the cartel party and of the neoliberal economic consensus, and an appeal to a post-democratic ‘virtual politics’ of performed but ineffectual popular sovereignty. The policies of the populist coalition governing Italy in 2018–19 provide a key case to test the relevance of our arguments.
Baldini, Gianfranco; Giglioli, Matteo
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/765220
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