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Twenty-First Century Populism in Australia and Italy: A Comparative Analysis

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Italy and Australia

Abstract

This chapter presents a comparative analysis of contemporary populism in Australia and Italy, reflecting on the similarities and differences of both. In Italy, populist parties have been playing a mainstream role since 1992. The country’s four populist parties have been in power, almost continuously, since 2010. They express different populist features, but still their politics is fundamentally rooted in the widespread sense of distrust towards state and governmental institutions. In Australia, the continued decline in democratic satisfaction and trust in political leaders and institutions has correlated with a rise of independents and minor parties, as well as leadership instability within the major political parties. We investigate the interaction between different forces—the media system, the party and electoral system, and long-term decline in political trust—to explain why the expression of populism in Australia has been radically different from that of Italy.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Cas Mudde and Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser, Populism: A Very Short Introduction, Very Short Introductions (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2017).

  2. 2.

    Gabriele Abbondanza and Simone Battiston, “Italy and Australia in the Twenty-First Century: Distant Connections or Close Partners?”, in Italy and Australia: Redefining Bilateral Relations for the Twenty-First Century, eds. Gabriele Abbondanza and Simone Battiston (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2024), pp. 1–23.

  3. 3.

    Kirk Hawkins and Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser, “Introduction: The Ideational Approach,” in The Ideational Approach to Populism: Concept, Theory, and Analysis, eds. Kirk Hawkins et al. (Oxon: Routledge, 2019), 2–24.

  4. 4.

    Cas Mudde and Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser, Populism: A Very Short Introduction.

  5. 5.

    Sophia Hunger and Fred Paxton, “What’s in a Buzzword? A Systematic Review of the State of Populism Research in Political Science,” Political Science Research and Methods (September 20, 2021): 1–17, https://doi.org/10.1017/psrm.2021.44.

  6. 6.

    Cas Mudde, “Populism in Europe: An Illiberal Democratic Response to Undemocratic Liberalism (The Government and Opposition /Leonard Schapiro Lecture 2019),” Government and Opposition 56, no. 4 (October 2021): 577–97, https://doi.org/10.1017/gov.2021.15.

  7. 7.

    Tim Bale and Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser, eds., Riding the Populist Wave: Europe’s Mainstream Right in Crisis, 1st ed. (Cambridge University Press, 2021), https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009006866.

  8. 8.

    Kurt Sengul, “The Role of Political Interviews in Mainstreaming and Normalizing the Far-Right: A View from Australia,” in Adversarial Political Interviewing, ed. Ofer Feldman (Singapore: Springer Nature Singapore, 2022), 357–75, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-19-0576-6_18.

  9. 9.

    Giorel Curran, “Mainstreaming Populist Discourse: The Race-Conscious Legacy of Neo-Populist Parties in Australia and Italy,” Patterns of Prejudice 38, no. 1 (March 1, 2004): 37–55, https://doi.org/10.1080/0031322032000185578.

  10. 10.

    Glenn Kefford and Shaun Ratcliff, “Populists or Nativist Authoritarians? A Cross-National Analysis of the Radical Right,” Australian Journal of Political Science 56, no. 3 (July 3, 2021): 261–79, https://doi.org/10.1080/10361146.2021.1956431.

  11. 11.

    Kurt Sengul, “‘Swamped’: The Populist Construction of Fear, Crisis and Dangerous Others in Pauline Hanson’s Senate Speeches,” Communication Research and Practice 6, no. 1 (January 2, 2020): 20–37, https://doi.org/10.1080/22041451.2020.1729970.

  12. 12.

    Anna Broinowski, Please Explain: The Rise, Fall and Rise Again of Pauline Hanson (2018).

  13. 13.

    Michael Leach, Geoffrey Stokes, and Ian Ward, eds., The Rise and Fall of One Nation (University of Queensland Press, 2000).

  14. 14.

    Broinowski, 214.

  15. 15.

    Curran, “Mainstreaming Populist Discourse,” (March 1, 2004).

  16. 16.

    Kurt Sengul, “‘It’s OK to Be White’: The Discursive Construction of Victimhood, ‘Anti-White Racism’ and Calculated Ambivalence in Australia,” Critical Discourse Studies (May 4, 2021): 1–17, https://doi.org/10.1080/17405904.2021.1921818.

  17. 17.

    Cas Mudde, The Far Right Today (Cambridge, UK; Medford, MA: Polity, 2019).

  18. 18.

    Sengul, “Swamped.”.

  19. 19.

    John Quiggin, “Time for Rudd to Give a Full-Throated Defence of Keynesian Stimulus,” The Guardian Australia (August 26, 2013).

  20. 20.

    Tim Leslie, “The Rise and Fall of Kevin Rudd,” ABC News, November 14, 2013, https://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-11-14/the-rise-and-fall-of-kevin-rudd/5090194.

  21. 21.

    Sarah Cameron, “Government Performance and Dissatisfaction with Democracy in Australia,” Australian Journal of Political Science 55, no. 2 (April 2, 2020): 170–90, https://doi.org/10.1080/10361146.2020.1755221.

  22. 22.

    Sarah Cameron and Ian McAllister, “Trends in Australian Political Opinion Results from the Australian Election Study 1987–2019” (ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences, 2019), https://australianelectionstudy.org/wp-content/uploads/Trends-in-Australian-Political-Opinion-1987-2019.pdf.

  23. 23.

    Cameron and McAllister, 99.

  24. 24.

    Ruth Dassonneville and Ian McAllister, “Explaining the Decline of Political Trust in Australia,” Australian Journal of Political Science, (August 6, 2021): 1–18, https://doi.org/10.1080/10361146.2021.1960272.

  25. 25.

    Liang Jiang and Xiangjun Ma, “Political Distrust and Right-Wing Populist Party Voting in Australia,” Australian Journal of Political Science 55, no. 4 (October 1, 2020): 362–77, https://doi.org/10.1080/10361146.2020.1799937.

  26. 26.

    Kefford, Glenn, Benjamin Moffitt, John Collins, and Joshua Marsh, “Populist Attitudes in Australia: Contextualising the Demand-Side,” Australian Journal of Political Science (October 1, 2022): 1–17. https://doi.org/10.1080/10361146.2022.2122401.

  27. 27.

    Jiang and Ma, 374.

  28. 28.

    Marc Hooghe and Ruth Dassonneville, “A Spiral of Distrust: A Panel Study on the Relation Between Political Distrust and Protest Voting in Belgium,” Government and Opposition 53, no. 1 (January 2018): 104–30, https://doi.org/10.1017/gov.2016.18.

  29. 29.

    Vincenzo Emanuele, Dataset of New Parties and Party System Innovation in Western Europe Since 1945 (Rome: Italian Center for Electoral Studies, 2016), http://dx.doi.org/10.7802/1363.

  30. 30.

    Emanuele.

  31. 31.

    Luciano Bardi, “Anti-Party Sentiment and Party System Change in Italy,” European Journal of Political Research 29, no. 3 (1996): 345–63, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-6765.1996.tb00656.x.

  32. 32.

    Vittorio Mete, “Four Types of Anti-Politics: Insights from the Italian Case,” Modern Italy 15, no. 1 (February 1, 2010): 37–61, https://doi.org/10.1080/13532940903477872.

  33. 33.

    Mete, 42.

  34. 34.

    Tim Dwyer, “Is Australia’s Media Market One of the World’s Most Concentrated?,” The Conversation, December 12, 2016, https://theconversation.com/is-australias-media-market-one-of-the-worlds-most-concentrated-68437.

  35. 35.

    Jesper Strömbäck, “Mediatization and Perceptions of the Media’s Political Influence,” Journalism Studies 12, no. 4 (August 2011): 423–39, https://doi.org/10.1080/1461670X.2010.523583.

  36. 36.

    Mitchell Hobbs and David McKnight, “‘Kick This Mob Out’: The Murdoch Media and the Australian Labor Government (2007 to 2013),” Global Media Journal Australia 8, no. 2 (2014): 1–3.

  37. 37.

    S. Waisbord, “Populism as Media and Communication Phenomenon,” in Routledge Handbook of Global Populism, ed. C de la Torre (Oxon: Routledge, 2019), 221–34.

  38. 38.

    Ruth Wodak, The Politics of Fear: The Shameless Normalization of Far-Right Discourse, 2nd ed. (Thousand Oaks: Sage, 2021).

  39. 39.

    Gianpietro Mazzoleni, “Populism and the Media,” in Twentyfirst Century Populism: The Spectre of Western European Democracy, eds. Daniele Albertazzi and Duncan McDonnell (Basingstoke: Palgrave, n.d.), 49–64.

  40. 40.

    Mudde, The Far Right Today.

  41. 41.

    Iva Ellen Deutchman and Anne Ellison, “A Star Is Born: The Roller Coaster Ride of Pauline Hanson in the News,” Media, Culture & Society 21, no. 1 (January 1999): 33–50, https://doi.org/10.1177/016344399021001002.

  42. 42.

    Giorel Curran, “Mainstreaming Populist Discourse: The Race-Conscious Legacy of Neo-Populist Parties in Australia and Italy,” Patterns of Prejudice 38, no. 1 (March 1, 2004): 37–55, https://doi.org/10.1080/0031322032000185578.

  43. 43.

    Benjamin Moffitt, “Populism 2.0: Social Media and the False Allure of ‘Unmediated’ Representation,” in Populism and the Crisis of Democracy: Politics, Social Movements and Extremism, eds. G. Fitzi, J. Mackert, and B.S. Turner (Oxon: Routledge, 2019), 30–46.

  44. 44.

    Kurt Sengul, “Never Let a Good Crisis Go to Waste: Pauline Hanson’s Exploitation of COVID-19 on Facebook,” Media International Australia 178, no. 1 (February 2021): 101–5, https://doi.org/10.1177/1329878X20953521.

  45. 45.

    Giuseppe Eusepi, “Broadcasting System in Italy: Evolution and Perspectives,” Public Choice (1986-1998) 82, no. 3–4 (March 1995): 307–24.

  46. 46.

    Alessio Cornia, “TV-Centrism and Politicisation in Italy: Obstacles to New Media Development and Pluralism,” Media, Culture & Society 38, no. 2 (March 1, 2016): 175–95, https://doi.org/10.1177/0163443715594035.

  47. 47.

    Emanuela Poli, Forza Italia: strutture, leadership e radicamento territoriale (Bologna: Il mulino, 2001), 62.

  48. 48.

    Francesco Bailo, Online Communities and Crowds in the Rise of the Five Star Movement (Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2020), 27, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-45508-8.

  49. 49.

    Sven Engesser, Nayla Fawzi, and Anders Olof Larsson, “Populist Online Communication: Introduction to the Special Issue,” Information, Communication & Society 20, no. 9 (September 2, 2017): 1279–92, https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2017.1328525.

  50. 50.

    Poli, Forza Italia, 62.

  51. 51.

    Between 2009 and 2013 beppegrillo.it was likely the third most viewed non-sport news website in Italy, after the website of the two major newspaper—La Repubblica and Corriere della Sera. See Bailo, Online Communities and Crowds in the Rise of the Five Star Movement, 23.

  52. 52.

    Glenn Kefford and Duncan McDonnell, “Submission to the National Identity and Democracy Inquiry” (Parliament of Australia, 2019), 5.

  53. 53.

    Kefford and McDonnell, 5.

  54. 54.

    Cameron and McAllister, “Trends in Australian Political Opinion Results from the Australian Election Study 1987–2019.”.

  55. 55.

    Kefford and Ratcliff, “Populists or Nativist Authoritarians?”.

  56. 56.

    Anthoula Malkopoulou, “Compulsory Voting and Right-Wing Populism: Mobilisation, Representation and Socioeconomic Inequalities,” Australian Journal of Political Science 55, no. 3 (July 2, 2020): 276–92, https://doi.org/10.1080/10361146.2020.1774507.

  57. 57.

    McSwiney, Jordan. “Organising Australian Far-Right Parties: Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and Fraser Anning’s Conservative National Party.” Australian Journal of Political Science (September 14, 2022): 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1080/10361146.2022.2121681.

  58. 58.

    Mudde, “Populism in Europe,” 558.

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Sengul, K., Bailo, F. (2023). Twenty-First Century Populism in Australia and Italy: A Comparative Analysis. In: Abbondanza, G., Battiston, S. (eds) Italy and Australia. Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-99-3216-0_9

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