“Between EU-Phoria and EU-Phobia – Populism in Slovenia” and “The Main Roots of Italian Populism” (TruLies Blog posts by Dr. Marko Lovec and Flavio Chiapponi)

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The origins of populisms and Euroscep­ticism in Slovenia and Italy are the topics of two new blog posts on the TruLies Blog.

Dr. Marco Lovec believes that Slovenia, contrary to many other Central and Eastern European new member states of the EU, has a strong commitment to the project of European integration. However, it is still transi­tioning into a fully functional liberal democracy, leading to a unique situation where populism takes the forms of both EU-phoria and EU-phobia with the two of them often being inextri­cably linked. Upon EU membership and due to economic growth, Slovenia was considered an ‘excellent student’ and public support for the EU was very high. Dr. Lovec traces how with the financial crisis and a following recession, Euroscep­ticism started to grow little by little and states that due to under­de­veloped political culture, Slovenian politics is trapped in love-hate imaginary, which mixes half-truths with emotions triggered by unresolved issues.

Flavio Chiapponi outlines contem­porary facets of populism in Italian politics by analyzing Italian history and the particular role of insti­tu­tions. He points out that in Italy, not only movements or Parties such as Lega Nord and 5 Stelle, but also single politi­cians such as Silvio Berlusconi or even Matteo Renzi can be described as populist. Since populist tendencies have been a permanent feature of Italian politics since 1994, Chiapponi suspects that the success of Italian populism stems from struc­tural charac­ter­istics. Voters have become more issue- and less ideology-oriented. Populist parties exploit the political discontent shared by many Italians and the increasing person­al­ization of politics paved the way for populist success, since populism gives a clear priority to the immediate link and inter­action between leader and followers. Combined with weak insti­tu­tions, Chiapponi sees these factors as the reason for populist success which he believes to endure in the future.

Dr. Marko Lovec is Assistant Professor and Research Fellow at the Centre of Inter­na­tional Relations at the University of Ljubljana, and Associate Researcher at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

Flavio Chiapponi is an Assistant Professor at the University of Pavia.

The project “TruLies – The Truth about Lies on Europe”, aided by the Stiftung Mercator and run by the Institute for European Politics (IEP) in cooper­ation with Das Progressive Zentrum, has two principal objec­tives. On the one hand, it strives to decon­struct Eurosceptic and populist preju­dices, animosities, and false asser­tions, by means of social scien­tif­i­cally-grounded analysis. Thus, it aims to contribute to a ratio­nal­i­sation of the public discourse and debate in Germany (and beyond). On the other hand, “TruLies Europe” endeavours to publicly commu­nicate its findings beyond the select circle of scholars to political actors, civil society, and the wider public. You may find further infor­mation on our website: http://trulies-europe.de/.

Dr. Marko Lovec‘s and Flavio Chiapponi’s contri­bu­tions can be found here.