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The Masks of the Political God by Luca Ozzano

Anti-Immigrant Discourse as a Resource in Party Competition. The Case of Polish Right-Wing Populism

Political Competition
Party Systems
Artur Lipinski
Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan
Artur Lipinski
Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan

The immigration as a political issue was practically absent from the Polish public sphere until 2015 parliamentary elections. The parliamentary campaign coupled with the so called „refugee crisis” provided convenient window of opportunity for the right wing opposition to politicize the issue and use it as a tool against the then governing Civic Platform. It was employed not only by Law and Justice (PiS) as the biggest opposition party, but also by two other fringe right wing parties KORWiN and Kukiz ’15. Consequently, the Polish case can provide insight into dynamics of party competition between right wing actors resorting to populist political communication strategies.
The aim of the paper is to study the functions of discursive constructions of immigrants in the political competition between right wing parties and between them and the incumbent party. In this repsect the study differs both from more quantitatively oriented politicization studies focused on issue salience or polarization and qualitatively oriented discourse studies focused on the specific content discursive constructions of immigrants. The basic argument underlying the study is twofold. First, political actors understandings of immigration/”refugee crisis”is never restricted to a single, specific meaning. Secondly, these various meanings serve different functions depending on political actors' ideological position, oppositional status or relationship with other right wing actors.
The paper employs qualitative discourse analysis to study how the party images of the „refugee crisis” contributed to discursive mechanisms of identity building of the political actors, constructions of representative claims related to “the people” and discursive mechanisms of delegitimization of vertical ("the elites”) and horizontal others (immigrants/refugees). Additionally, it analyses complex discursive nomination, predication and argumentation patterns based on historical analogies, Euroscepticism, xenophobia and Islamophobia. Empirically, the paper is based on the September 2015 parliamentary debate on Polish response to the refugee crisis and its subsequent reproductions, remediatizations and recontextualizations in the offline and online media by PiS, KORWiN and KUKIZ ’15 leaders.
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