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Article

‘We the People’: Demarcating the Demos in Populist Mobilization—The Case of the Italian Lega

Centre for Global Studies, Department of Political Science, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC V8S 1L4, Canada
Academic Editor: Nigel Parton
Soc. Sci. 2021, 10(10), 351; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci10100351
Received: 31 July 2021 / Revised: 12 September 2021 / Accepted: 18 September 2021 / Published: 23 September 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Resurgence of Populism: Tackling the Crisis of Liberal Democracy)
This article is a theoretically guided and empirically based analysis of how populist movements invoke the notion of the ‘people’ as a cornerstone of their political mobilization. While the confrontation between the virtuous ‘people’ and the unresponsive elites speaks to how populism challenges established political actors and institutions, the actual meaning of who the ‘people’ are and what they represent is shifting and often driven by strategic considerations. Analytically the article investigates the distinct ways in which nationalism and populism conceptualize and politically mobilize the notion of the ‘people’. Empirically it focuses on the Italian League and engages in a discourse analysis of its political campaigns over the past 30 years. Based on this textual analysis of political campaigns, the article sheds light on how the reference to the ‘people’ has been employed as this political actor has transformed from a regionalist party advocating for autonomy in Northern Italy to one taking up the role of a populist-nationalist party at the national level. This case study allows the author to make a generalizable hypothesis about the nature of identity politics promoted by populist actors and the way in which the invocation of the ‘people’ and their alleged enemies is a pivotal political narrative that opens and restricts opportunities for political mobilization. This interpretative approach also allows for a more concise conceptual understanding of the affinity that right-wing populists demonstrate toward nativist ideologies. View Full-Text
Keywords: populism; nationalism; regionalism; italy; democracy; party politics; Lega populism; nationalism; regionalism; italy; democracy; party politics; Lega
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MDPI and ACS Style

Schmidtke, O. ‘We the People’: Demarcating the Demos in Populist Mobilization—The Case of the Italian Lega. Soc. Sci. 2021, 10, 351. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci10100351

AMA Style

Schmidtke O. ‘We the People’: Demarcating the Demos in Populist Mobilization—The Case of the Italian Lega. Social Sciences. 2021; 10(10):351. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci10100351

Chicago/Turabian Style

Schmidtke, Oliver. 2021. "‘We the People’: Demarcating the Demos in Populist Mobilization—The Case of the Italian Lega" Social Sciences 10, no. 10: 351. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci10100351

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