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ECPR Virtual General Conference 2020

Taking Back Control: How the Populist Right Frames the Topics of National Sovereignty and EU Membership

Comparative Politics
European Union
Mixed Methods
Miltiadis Rizakis
University of Glasgow
Miltiadis Rizakis
University of Glasgow

Before the advent of the 2008 fiscal crisis, euroscepticism was largely marginalized. The evolution of the EU and its competences increasingly strained the permissive consensus vital for the union’s legitimacy. The parties of the populist right have often utilized the concept of national sovereignty along with strong anti EU sentiments in their rhetoric in their attempt to garner support. While various academics have attempted to analyze the discourse of these parties not many of them have provided a detailed and quantifiable analysis, since most of them are based on a small amount of data.
By utilizing the NVivo software I analyzed the rhetoric of Golden Dawn (GD) and Rassemblement National (RN) during two elections periods for both parties and calculated the number of sources, references and the frequency of occurrence for each reference in comparison to the entirety of their rhetoric on a month by month basis. In addition, I included a number of excerpts from their speeches in order to add a qualitative element to my analysis and to better showcase the differences in the style of rhetoric between these two parties.
The findings show that RN has utilized these frames in a moderate manner, exhibiting only minor fluctuations as opposed to GD whose rise is directly tied with Greece’s debt crisis. Furthermore, RN has undergone many changes and wishes to present itself as a viable contender in the political arena and its rhetoric is not solely limited in providing a diagnosis to a certain issue and attacking their opponents, but they also have their own program and offer alternative solutions, while GD is a relative newcomer riding the wave of popular discontent caused by the crisis and is far more opportunistic in its utilization of frames. In a way GD represents an earlier stage of RN’s evolution in the sense that they are still mainly a protest party, and this paper will showcase this fundamental difference between them.
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