Populist Articulations of Euroscepticism and Nationalism: Lessons from Finland and Ireland

Thursday, July 13, 2017
Gilbert Scott Building - G466 (University of Glasgow)
Nicole Lugosi , Department of Political Science, University of Alberta
Christian Schimpf , University of Mannheim - GESS
Europe has witnessed increasing legitimation of anti-establishment rhetoric and electoral support for political parties competing along these lines, most dramatically exemplified by Brexit. While not all anti-establishment parties are populist, anti-establishment ideology is a core feature of populist parties with Euroscepticism as a key party strategy.

This article explores how two populist parties in Finland and Ireland articulate their Eurosceptic positions alongside constructions of 'us and them', a hallmark of populism. In recent years, both the Finns Party (Finland) on the right and Sinn Féin (Ireland) on the left have undergone party transformations that include strong anti-establishment narratives and nationalism with increased electoral success. Using a critical frame analysis, this qualitative two-case study examines party speeches and manifestos to argue that Euroscepticism paired with nationalist rhetoric creates a coherent story and a sense of urgency for action that resonates with the public. The paper concludes with thoughts on possible discursive and practical consequences, and suggests directions for future research.