The Inclusion and Exclusion of Europe as a Discursive Strategy in Populist Political Rhetoric
Lähdesmäki, T. (2014). The Inclusion and Exclusion of Europe as a Discursive Strategy in Populist Political Rhetoric. In S. Marino (Ed.), Interdisciplinary Perspectives and Trajectories on Pluralism, Inclusion and Citizenship (pp. 29-43). Inter-Disciplinary Press.
© 2014 Inter-Disciplinary Press. Published in this repository with the kind permission of the publisher.
In recent decades global cultural flows and the movement of people within and across the borders of the EU have diversified Europe by increasing the inner pluralism of European societies. At the same time European societies have faced the rise of diverse nationalist and populist movements and political parties. These movements and parties have criticized the increasing diversity in Europe, finding faults especially in the EU integration process, current immigration policies, and the consequent development of multi- and intercultural societies. In current populist discourse, ‘borderlessness’ and the transformation of the current cultural, symbolic, and societal borders are often objected or perceived as a threat to the ‘right’ or traditional order. Europe is a profoundly flexible concept and, in Ernesto Laclau’s terms, a ‘floating signifier’ which can be given various meanings depending on the speaker’s political aims. In populist discourse, Europe as a cultural, political, economic, spatial, symbolic, and moral concept often comprises contradictory meanings. On the one hand, Europe can be perceived as a cultural and value-based community, which shares a common history, (Christian) heritage, and similar values and moral norms. In populist discourse, identification with Europe and the promotion of it as a cultural and value community is particularly pronounced when a threat towards ‘us’ is experienced as coming from outside the imagined European borders. On the other hand, Europe as a political project and the political and cultural integration in Europe can be articulated as a threat to national independence, identity, and cultural particularity. In my chapter, I will analyse the meaning-making of the idea of Europe and its flexibility in current populist political discourse in Finland. The empirical focus of the chapter is in the Finns Party and the political rhetoric found in its party newspaper. ...
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