Populism, Abstention and the Stigmatisation of the Working Class

Thursday, July 13, 2017
WMP Yudowitz Seminar Room 1 (University of Glasgow)
Aurelien Mondon , Politics, Languages and International Studies, University of Bath
In recent years, the term ‘populism’ has become increasingly linked to reconstructed far right parties in Europe such as the French Front National and UKIP. Through its many uses and misuses, this association has created a mythology around such parties and their appeal to the ‘people’. This development has facilitated the return of racism to the forefront of the mainstream political discourse and simultaneously obscured the deeper causes for such revival.

This paper will explore the ways in which the populist hype, based on a skewed understanding of democracy as majority, has divided the ‘people’ along arbitrary lines, tearing communities apart at the expense of more emancipatory actions. Based on the analysis of elite discourse and electoral results, with a particular focus on the role of abstention, the aim of this paper will be to examine the process in which, through its involuntary and constructed association with the far right, the ‘people’ has become essentialised as the white working class, thus not only separating but antagonising class and race struggles.


If possible, this paper would be part of the following panel:

Populist party transformation and quality of democracy in Europe

The coordinators Nicole Lugosi and Lori Thorlakson are aware of it, but the abstract was submitted after they had submitted the panel.