Government participation and populist discourse transformation of radical left SYRIZA and radical right ANEL

By Alexandros Ntaflos, Leiden University | June 9, 2023

This study examines how the government participation within an EU country can affect the discourse of the left-wing and right-wing populist parties. We analyzed this question by tracing two Greek populist parties’ discourse, the left-wing Syriza and the right-wing Independent Greeks (Anel), during the 2012-2019 period. We have split the examined period into two subperiods (2012 to July 2015, and August 2015 to 2019). The turning point was the Syriza-Anel government’s signature of the third EU bailout program in August 2015. The first hypothesis was that the government accession within the EU context would slightly decrease the populist logic of the two parties. The next two hypotheses referred that the EU leverage emerged by the signing of the bailout agreement will decrease the populist rhetoric of the two parties towards the external elites (mainly the EU). However, the right-wing populists (Anel)- even after this decrease- will target the external elites to a larger extent than the left-wing populists. To examine the hypotheses in-depth, we applied a combination of quantitative content analysis with qualitative discourse analysis. The findings have corroborated our three initial hypotheses. Simultaneously, the qualitative discourse analysis offered us some additional findings concerning the two parties’ use of topos of “History” to increase their populist appeal within the electorate.

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