The Nature of Italian Populism

PhD Thesis

Varriale, A. 2024. The Nature of Italian Populism. PhD Thesis University of East London School of Education & Communities
AuthorsVarriale, A.
TypePhD Thesis

The present study primarily focuses on the nature of the relationship between so-called “right-wing” populism and “left-wing” populism in Italy, given the country is the home of two widely discussed and somewhat contested party cases, the League (Lega, formerly known as Lega Nord) and the 5 Star Movement (MoVimento 5 Stelle). The two parties have served in government conjunctly for little more than a year between June 2018 and August/September 2019 and their political association became known as the “Yellow-Green Government”, “Conte I”, or “government of change” in academic, journalistic, and political circles already aware of their anti-establishment credentials. Overall, this contribution exists to disclose the ideological narratives that have mostly brought together (but also eventually separated) two populist parties living through a historic populist moment. In order to accomplish this objective, I have made use of a mixed methodology that binds together an assessment of electoral manifestos and a series of interviews carried out with ten politicians originating from the parties in question. By identifying six themes that recur in party literature (e.g. manifestos) and discourse (e.g. interviews) - through the use of Thematic Content Analysis (TCA) - I expose that the League-5SM coalition was able to materialise largely due to an ideological concurrence. In essence, the nature of the relationship between Matteo Salvini’s League and the (then Luigi Di Maio’s) 5 Star Movement in Italy could be traced back to the populism they equally promoted, which was interwoven with a plethora of common themes: anti-elitism, unpolitics, sovereignism, producerism, reformism, and direct democracy. In other words, it appears that the temporary alliance between Italian right-wing populists and left-wing populists was made possible by turning ideology - directly related to those six themes - into policy.

PublisherUniversity of East London
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Completed18 Mar 2024
Deposited09 May 2024
Copyright holder© 2024, The Author
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