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Populist Radical Left Parties in Western Europe
 2019050816, 2019050817, 9781138496026, 9781351022668

Table of contents :
Cover
Half Title
Title Page
Copyright Page
Contents
List of tables
List of figures
About the author
Acknowledgements
Introduction
1 Conceptual framework
2 Left-wing populism
3 New identitarian approach
4 Forerunners of populism
5 Ideal-typical populism
6 Populism of government
7 Presidential populism
8 Other left populisms
9 Inside – the internal dimension
10 Outside – the external dimension
Conclusions
Interviews
References
Index

Citation preview

Focusing on Syriza, Podemos, France Insoumise, and the Party of Democratic Socialism and Die Linke in Germany this book fills a gap. Whereas a lot has been published on the European populist right, Damiani’s book is an empirically sound and theoretically rigorous book about the populist left. – Carlos de la Torre, Professor and Director of the Center for Latin American Studies, University of Florida Marco Damiani’s book is a deep and innovative research on radical left populism in Europe conceived by the author mainly as political and economical antiestablishment parties and not so much as anti-political system parties. – Marc Lazar, Professor and Director of the Doctoral School, Paris Institute of Political Studies (better known as Sciences Po) Populist Radical Left Parties in Western Europe represents a nuanced, detailed and thought-provoking study of several ‘classic’ left populist parties (including Syriza and Podemos) and several less well-known (such as the Belgian Workers’ Party and Sinn Fein). It presents historical background and analysis of party programme, structure and leadership to argue both that parties are both more democratic and more evanescent than their right-wing populist counterparts, with their attempts to build a people more complex and subtle than those of the right, which can rely on cultural and ethnic nationalism. Populist radical left parties struggle to constitute a coherent people, and still more to project this people into a consistent governing programme. This is a rich and wide-ranging analysis that adds much to our study of radical left and populist parties and is a critical read for students, academics and practitioners. – Luke March, Professor and Director of Politics and International Relations, University of Edinburgh

Populist Radical Left Parties in Western Europe

This book provides a comparative analysis and a systemic categorization of the Populist Radical Left Parties (PRLPs) in Western Europe. Institutional and socio-economic aspects have transformed the political culture of many modern democracies, leading to the creation of radical left-wing parties who, by combining a strongly populist political offer with the historical demands of the traditional left wing, are capable of electoral success. This book analyzes a range of different Populist Radical Left Parties (PRLPs) in Western Europe through in-depth case studies. The author uses statutes, internal documents, programs, election results, membership data, and international political literature combined with interviews with executives and national secretaries to describe and interpret the main features of PRLPs, their paths of formation and political transformation. This volume will appeal to scholars and students of political science and political sociology, media studies and anyone interested in trying to better understand European populism and the distinctions among its different forms. Marco Damiani is Assistant Professor in Political Sociology at University of Perugia.

Populist Radical Left Parties in Western Europe

Marco Damiani

First published 2020 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, NY 10017 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2020 Marco Damiani The right of Marco Damiani to be identified as author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Damiani, Marco, author. | Routledge (Firm) Title: Populist radical left parties in Western Europe / Marco Damiani. Description: First Edition. | New York : Routledge, 2020. | Includes   bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2019050816 (print) | LCCN 2019050817 (ebook) |   ISBN 9781138496026 (Hardback) | ISBN 9781351022668 (eBook) Subjects: LCSH: Political parties—Europe, Western. | Populism—Europe,   Western. | Left-wing extremists—Europe, Western. | Right and left   (Political science)—Europe, Western. | Radicalism—Europe, Western. |   Social movements—Political aspects—Europe, Western. | Europe,   Western—Politics and government. Classification: LCC JN94.A979 D33 2020 (print) | LCC JN94.A979 (ebook) |   DDC 324.2/17094—dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2019050816 LC ebook record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2019050817 ISBN: 978-1-138-49602-6 (hbk) ISBN: 978-1-351-02266-8 (ebk) Typeset in Times New Roman by Apex CoVantage, LLC

Contents

List of tables List of figures About the author Acknowledgements

Introduction

viii ix x xi 1

  1 Conceptual framework

13

  2 Left-wing populism

32

  3 New identitarian approach

50

  4 Forerunners of populism

65

  5 Ideal-typical populism

81

  6 Populism of government

98

  7 Presidential populism

116

  8 Other left populisms

130

  9 Inside – the internal dimension

143

10 Outside – the external dimension

158



Conclusions

171

Interviews References Index

177 179 198

Tables

4.1 4.2 5.1 6.1 7.1 8.1 8.2 8.3 9.1

Electoral Trends (PDS and LP) Federal Election Trends (West and East Germany) Electoral Trends (Podemos) Electoral Trends (Syriza) Electoral Trends (France insoumise) Electoral Trends (Socialist Party in the Netherlands) Electoral Trends (Workers’ Party of Belgium) Electoral Trends (Sinn Féin) Instruments of Participation Used by European Populist Radical Left Movements and Parties

76 77 93 112 126 138 139 140 149

Figures

2.1 Populist Radical Left Parties in Western Europe 2.2 National Cases of PRLPs in Western Europe (1989–2019) 4.1 Percentage Variation of PDS-LP (Calculated on the Basis of Actual Number of Votes)

42 43 78

About the author

Marco Damiani is Assistant Professor in Political Sociology at University of Perugia. His research focuses on the European political parties. In particular, he works on the left and radical left parties and the European populist parties. With Routledge he has published: “Citizen democracy: New politics in new participation models”, in M. Anselmi and P. Blokker (eds.) Multiple Populisms: Italy as Democracy’s Mirror (2019); “The European Radical Left. Transformation and Political Changement”, in J. Ibrahim and J. M. Roberts (eds.) Contemporary Left-Wing Activism Volume 1: Democracy, Participation and Dissent in a Global Context (2019); “Radical Left-wing Populism and Democracy in Europe”, in C. de la Torre (ed.) Routledge Handbook of Global Populism (2018).

Acknowledgements

The publication of this monograph required a lot of hard work involving study, research, travel, and many nights spent over books and in front of the computer. In this case, too, as always happens every time that I commit myself to a particularly challenging task, the production of this volume did not come about within the four walls of my room but depended on the contribution, collaboration, counsel and support of many people on many different fronts. I wish, therefore, on this occasion, to express my gratitude to all those without whose help the project would not have come to fruition. First of all, I am indebted to Roberto Segatori. Without the time we have spent together, his teaching, our friendship and our continuous dialogue, without his reflections, criticisms, and admonishments, this work, like those before it, would never have seen the light. I am sure I will continue to rely on Segatori in my future work. I am happy to recognize my debt to Alessandro Campi. The friendship and collaboration that binds us, our recurrent discussions and exchanges, have enriched the contents of this book. I also want to thank Valter Coralluzzo, from whom I am separated by a physical distance made shorter by frequent occasions of scientific exchange and discussion and a relationship of profound respect and affection. I am grateful to Marc Lazar because our friendship and the dialogue we have shared have been extremely helpful in furthering my understanding of the phenomena examined here. I am grateful to Carlos de La Torre for his trust in me and his acceptance of me as an interlocutor. I want to express my gratitude to Ivan Llamazares because our encounter allowed me to open up new paths of research. I want to thank John Roberts and Joseph Ibrahim for giving me the chance to bring into focus some newly formed ideas. The early stages of this work were shared with my fellow travelers of the Centre for Conflict and Participation Studies (CCPS), whom I wish to thank in rigorously alphabetical order: Manuel Anselmi, Paul Blokker, Emiliana De Blasio, Fabio De Nardis, Michele Sorice and Lorenzo Viviani. I share with all of them an itinerary of reflection developed in the course of many conferences, meetings, trips, meals and collaborative study and work.

xii Acknowledgements I have benefitted for many years from the fundamental and uninterrupted support of Fabio Amato, intellectual and skilled politician, generous and sincere friend. Without him, without his commitment and international reputation earned in the field, without his network of contacts and without his personal commitment my efforts to achieve a better understanding of my object of study would never have been successful. It is thanks to Fabio that I was able to have frequent and repeated access to the people and institutions of the European Left. There is also a long list of friends and colleagues who, in various ways and on different fronts, have contributed to the development and completion of this volume. Their advice, criticisms, and suggestions have provided fundamental support. Among them, I especially want to thank Valerio Marinelli, Lorenzo Bruni, Matteo Santarelli, Guillaume Mariel and Marine Rose. The time that all of them have dedicated to my work has been precious in the development of the ideas contained in the book. A special thank you goes to Rosalba Belmonte for her help and support from the very beginning of this project. I cannot forget the people who in various European countries have played an important role of mediation, facilitating my field research. My most sincere thanks go out to Gabriel Amard, Juan Carlos Monedero, Argirys Panagopoulos, Lefteris Stoukogeorgos and Ambros Waibel. My thanks to Gregory Conti whose dedication, precision, and professionalism have allowed me to express my findings and analysis in appropriate language. I am grateful to the Department of Political Science at the University of Perugia. This volume is the product of my intellectual growth that has taken place there in an atmosphere of collaboration and amicable academic relationships developed over the years. I wish to thank all the political leaders and activists I have interviewed who have generously offered their firsthand knowledge of facts and events, which I hope to have reported faithfully in my interpretation of the results. I am also indebted to the many officials, functionaries, and activists who have been the bridges between me and their organizations. Lastly, but not last in order of importance, I want to thank all the readers of this volume while advising them that the sole responsibility for its contents, and any imprecisions or errors, is my own. Spello, 1 January 2020

Introduction

This book proposes a systematic categorization of the Populist Radical Left Parties (PRLPs) in Western Europe. Up to now, populism and the radical left have almost always been treated separately. The aim of this volume is to connect the two categories in order to better analyze the salient categories of the European PRLPs. More specifically, the objective is to conduct an in-depth study of the processes of political re-organization set in motion by the parties of the radical left, attempting to combine a theoretical approach with empirical research. Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989–2019), as the sun is setting on traditional ideologies, it behooves us to concentrate our attention on the populist political programs proposed by the parties to the left of the European socialist, social-democratic and labour parties. The book attempts to provide answers to three questions: 1) Within the field of populism, what is radical left-wing populism? 2) Which are the PRLPs in Western Europe? 3) What are the similarities and differences between them? The hypothesis formulated in the attempt to answer these questions places the Populist Radical Left Parties in the space reserved to all those political organizations that advance critical positions with respect to the ongoing neoliberalist transformations in Western countries while nonetheless maintaining characteristics compatible with the institutional holding power of contemporary democratic regimes. Our intention is to observe, describe and interpret the field of the Populist Radical Left by way of the category of the “anti-system party”. For Sartori (1976: 132–133) “a party can be defined as being anti-system whenever it undermines the legitimacy of the regime it opposes”.1 According to the hypothesis that inspires this volume, the PRLPs in Western Europe are conceived as fairly “pro-system parties”. They are an expression of a specific declination of “anti-political establishment parties” interested in proposing themselves as an alternative to and in alternation with the governing elite and the dominant political establishment without, however, pursuing the overthrow of the existing political system (Schedler 1996; Abedi 2004; Barr 2009). In order to qualify as such, an anti-political establishment party must have three characteristics: a) advance a radical critique of the

2 Introduction dominant political system without placing itself outside of it; b) display a selfperception as a subject capable of launching a challenge to established institutions; c) interpret and represent the presumed sharp division between the interests of the people and the interests of the dominant oligarchy (Schedler 1996; Abedi 2004). Given these three characteristics, anti-political establishment parties are capable of institutionalizing the widespread “resentment” among the citizenry, hostile to the governing class in power (Poguntke 1987, 1996; Poguntke and Scarrow 1996). According to this view, anti-political establishment parties, beyond being identifiable as organized political forces positioned against the governing parties and political class, include all those political forces that, without aiming to undermine the political system in which they operate, show themselves to be interested in the construction of an alternative political option. To use the formulation of Hirschman (1970), anti-establishment political parties do not pursue an “exit” from the system, proposing instead to fashion a possible interaction between voice (protest) and loyalty (belonging). Unlike the revolutionary parties of Marxist tradition interested in abolishing the reigning state of affairs, we believe that the PRLPs, albeit with important individual differences among them, can be conceived as political formations in support of the liberal-democratic regimes in which they operate. In line with the characteristics previously found in radical left parties (Damiani 2016), the Populist Radical Left Parties should be interpreted, in our view, as a political category intent on transforming the existing political equilibrium while excluding anti-systemic revolutionary action. From a historical point of view, the PRLPs appear on the Western European political scene at the same moment in which countries with a mature democracy are facing a double level of difficulty, which can be attributed both to political questions (adoption of models of international governance that contribute to a significant reduction in traditional levels of political participation) and political economic questions (ineffective redistribution of wealth). This condition worsens following the onset of the economic and financial crisis of the Great Recession, which produced, starting in 2008, substantial negative social consequences in Europe, causing a progressive widening of the gap between the rich and poor. Such transformations produce a new zeitgeist (spirit of the age), which, in turn, has important political effects, leading to the birth of new parties capable of interpreting in new ways the needs, demands and expectations left unresolved by the mainstream parties.

Past and present To introduce the theme of the PRLPs and the conditions that promote their appearance on the international political scene in connection with the sudden economic and financial crisis and the threatened breakdown of the principle of democratic representation, it seems useful to recall the analysis of Antonio Gramsci. Over the course of his life, though in very different historical conditions, the Italian Marxist intellectual identified a strict relationship between the economic crisis,

Introduction  3 which he witnessed in the 1930s, and the political crisis of the ruling class of the time, widely delegitimized during the decades following WWI. It is this historical context that gives rise in Europe to the formation of Nazi-fascist parties.2 In this regard, Gramsci states, that aspect of the modern crisis which is bemoaned as a ‘wave of materialism’ is related to what is called the ‘crisis of authority’. If the ruling class has lost its consensus, i.e. is no longer ‘leading’ but only ‘dominant’, exercising coercive force alone, this means precisely that the great masses have become detached from their traditional ideologies, and no longer believe what they used to believe previously. (Antonio Gramsci 1929–1935: 275–276) In his attempt to understand and interpret the course of history in his time, Gramsci highlights a sort of short circuit that came about between the Great Depression in the capitalist world following the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the progressive emergence of an antidemocratic and authoritarian political class. In those years, according to Gramsci, the transformation that paves the way for the transition from the “leading” class (legitimized by electoral consensus) to the “dominant” class (whose hold on power is ensured exclusively by its use of brute force) is determined by the loss of trust and progressive alienation of the popular classes from the great political ideologies. In Gramsci’s view, it is this detachment and separation that creates the political space for the transformations that were to come later. Specifically, he describes the violent popular reaction that in the first half of the 20th century ends up provoking the nefarious consequences and the “morbid phenomena” that would lead to the Nazi-fascist tragedy. Based on these considerations, but jumping forward almost a century of history, we intend to demonstrate the analogous conditions (though in certain ways very different) that characterize the beginning of the 20th century and the initial decades of the 21st century. In both cases, political breakdowns are produced by prolonged economic crises. Almost one hundred years after the “Great Depression”, the capitalist world is hit by the Great Recession, which begins in the United States and, after 2008, rapidly propagates itself in all of Western Europe. In this case, too, the social and political consequences caused by the economic crisis, similarly to what Gramsci described almost a century before, cause the progressive separation of the ruling class from the interests and needs of the citizenry. The citizens react, in turn, by again demonstrating their deep dissatisfaction with the governing elite and their extreme discontent over the drastic decline of institutional democracy. The main and certainly not unimportant difference this time around concerns the epilogue of the crisis. Indeed, unlike what happened in the 20th century, thanks to the defense mechanisms typical of the by-now consolidated democratic systems, the economic and financial crisis at the beginning of the 21st century and the rapid delegitimizing of the ruling class do not succeed in threatening the staying power of political institutions, thus excluding a return to the authoritarian and totalitarian option. The potential risk, in this case, is the development of a post-democratic

4 Introduction state, understood as the emptying out of the substance of democracy in a regime where the procedural mechanisms that govern democratic systems continue to function (Crouch 2000). Nevertheless, despite the differences with respect to the past, some of the distinguishing traits of the early 20th and 21st centuries seem to repeat themselves in comparable form, giving rise, also in the early 2000s, to a political cycle characterized by the fracture of the “people” versus the “elite”. This is how a new political season is born in Western Europe, manifestly populist in nature, which we will try to put in relation to the transformation of the radical left parties, describing and critically interpreting the principle characteristics of that relationship.3

Populist and Neo-populism Before proceeding with our analysis, we need to make a further effort to clarify the concept of populism.4 Considering the polysemic meaning of the term, populism can be conceived as a political phenomenon that presents, simultaneously, four essential prerequisites (Segatori 2015a; Tarchi 2019): 1) direct appeal to the “people”, understood as a single and indivisible interlocutor, in whose hands (at least theoretically) must be placed the mandate of popular sovereignty. All populist forces develop a vision with a high degree of disintermediation, referring to the people as a single subject charged with the task of organizing the government of public life; 2) identification of the “enemy” of the people. All populists adopt a Smithian approach founded on the contraposition of friend/enemy (Schmitt 1927), identified in this case as the political, economic, financial and cultural elite; 3) use of an aggressive and parodic communication style. By way of their modus operandi, populists make wide use of the Manichean contraposition us/them (or people/elite) conceived as a sine qua non for the construction of their project; 4) simplification of political action. In an age of advanced mediatization and spectacularization of politics, this objective is facilitated by the massive use of new and old means of mass communication, which in part represents the main social trends and in part constructs an ad hoc message to communicate. These four characteristics are joined by a fifth peculiarity proper to the populist phenomenon, regularly manifest in most cases, but which in certain circumstances might not manifest itself explicitly. While the first four characteristics are an ineluctable constant in every populist expression, the fifth characteristic might not necessarily accompany every similar experience. This fifth element is the presence of a leader. Very often the leader is at once the founder, facilitator and interpreter of the populist project (especially in formalized and institutionalized parties). Nevertheless, there are historically determined examples of acephalous (leaderless) populist experiences (most often encountered in some social movements and more rarely in certain parties), which are distinguished by the exercise or the attempt to exercise collective leadership. Given its complexity, the question of the leader in the PRLPs will be treated in more detail in the book. In light of the above, we can identify three different declinations of populism. In the first place, this concept may be defined as a political ideology which joins with

Introduction  5 and overlaps traditional ideologies. The main exponent of this interpretation is Cas Mudde (2004). He refers to a sort of “thin ideology” based, as has been mentioned, on the contraposition between the purity of the people and the immorality of the elites. Thus conceived, every populist political formation is capable of setting in motion a process of adaptation with respect to “hard ideologies”, giving rise to a hybrid combination that brings together traditional and populist political contents. In the second place, populism is defined as a communicative style in which the means of mass communication are the fundamental instrument of success. Jagers and Walgrave (2007) are the two scholars who, more than others, have laid claim to this formulation. For these two authors, the exponents of populist political forces deliberately try to form an intimate relationship with the people, especially using designed communication strategies aimed at improving their relationship with their “followers”. Populists, therefore, try to resemble as much as possible the people they wish to represent, adopting a colloquial linguistic register and an informal personal style. The third declination of populism conceives it as an instrumental apparatus aimed only at the conquest of power. This reflection emerges in the analysis of Kurt Weyland (2001). This author tends to read populism as a set of political devices oriented toward the pursuit of final victory. For Weyland, populism is nothing more or less than a political strategy put to work for the objective of exercising government power through the direct (that is, unmediated) involvement of a large number of followers, for the most part nonorganized, within structured and formalized intermediate bodies. Starting from the populist experience of the early 21st century in countries of Latin America, Weyland describes the populist turn as a strategy used by leaders to ingratiate themselves with the people and to take power with the direct involvement of their respective social base. Populism, however, is not only a product of post-ideological society. Over the course of modern history, in a little over one hundred and fifty years, there have been (at least) four different seasons of populism (Chiapponi 2014; Palano 2017; Revelli 2017). The first appeared in Russia and in the United States during the 19th century. In Russia, the term, narodnichestvo, was first coined in the 1840s and is primarily used to indicate the political movements and demands that, under the then czarist empire, promoted the liberation of the peasant population. The same term will be used later by some Marxist leaders to challenge those who believed it possible to achieve real socialism without first going through the phase of capitalist development. Some years later, though without any direct relationship, the term populism crosses the Pacific Ocean to land in the United States. The People’s Party is founded in 1891 by leaders of the less prosperous classes, particularly cotton growers (especially in North Carolina, Alabama and Texas) and small farmers (Kansas and Nebraska). This political party carries on a sort of radical program (also defined as ruralism or agrarianism) organized against the banks, government technocrats and power elites. Less than twenty years after its foundation, just as rapidly as it had appeared and achieved success, the People’s Party suddenly disappears from the US political scene in 1908. Some decades later, when it arrives in Europe, populism begins its second season with a version that is non-democratic, authoritarian and totalitarian, marked

6 Introduction by the historical experiences of Nazism and Fascism. These experiences come to the fore following the economic crisis and the political turmoil between the end of the First World War and the crisis of the Great Depression. All of this produces the destabilization of the dominant political order, creating the conditions for the affirmation of a new generation of populist parties, tragically interpreted by, among others, Benito Mussolini in Italy and Adolph Hitler in Germany. In the years following the Second World War, after the restoration of democracy in Western Europe, the third season of populism characterizes, in particular, late 20th century Italy. Those years witnessed the crisis of the old mass political parties (the death of Christian Democracy and the Italian Socialist Party and the name change of the Italian Communist Party, which splits into the Democratic Party of the Left, and Communist Refoundation). It was the epilogue of the “First Republic” (1948–1994), collapsed under the onslaught of the judicial inquiry, “Mani Pulite” (Clean Hands), and in the wake of the serious economic and financial difficulties marked by the exit of the Italian lire from the European Monetary System (EMS) (Segatori 2003). It is in this moment that a new populist phase triumphs in Italy, with the foundation of Forza Italia (Go Italy) by Silvio Berlusconi and the Lega Nord (Northern League) by Umberto Bossi. These new parties would become the ideal case studies that allow us to examine the ongoing democratic transformations in the main European countries. The fourth season of populism, which we will be discussing in the chapters to follow, is the phase, “neo-populism” (Knight 1998; Mazzoleni et al. 2003; Graziano 2018). It began at the outset of the 21st century due to the combined effects of the Great Recession and a full-blown crisis of representation brought on by the negative parabola of the western political regimes, already defined as postdemocratic (Crouch 2000). After emerging in the countries of Latin America at the beginning of the 21st century, neo-populism rapidly spreads to Western Europe. This wave of populism is characterized by and distinguishes itself from all the others for its massive use of the means of mass communications and the social media. The new media promote, thanks to the power of information technology, the acceleration of political disintermediation by facilitating direct appeals to the people against the governing elites responsible for, in this view, the conditions of widespread economic and social hardship experienced by a large part of the European population. When it comes to considering the consequences of these new manifestations of populism, research studies are divided into two categories. On the one hand are studies that highlight the critical and perverse nature of populism, conceived substantially as a reaction against the representative democracy of the liberal tradition (Mény and Surel 2000; Taggart 2002; Abts and Rummens 2007; Mudde and Rovira Kaltwasser 2012; Urbinati 2014, 2019; de la Torre 2015). According to Urbinati (1998: 146) “both the character and the practice of populism underline, and more or less consciously derive from, a vision of democracy that can become deeply inimical to political liberty insofar as it defers the political dialectics among citizens and groups, revokes the mediation of political institutions, and maintains an organic notion of the body politic that is allergic to minorities and rights”.

Introduction  7 On the other hand, however, there are studies that see institutional compatibility between democracy and populism (Prentoulis and Thomassen 2014; Stavrakakis and Katsambekis 2014; Kioupkiolis 2016; Gerbaudo 2017). Among the optimists, the most famous and best known are Chantal Mouffe and Ernest Laclau, whose work offers a new hermeneutic approach (Laclau and Mouffe 1985; Laclau 1996; Mouffe 2000; Laclau 2005; Mouffe 2018). From this perspective, populism is conceived as a discourse developed in contraposition to the status quo, capable of constructing a particular kind of discursive counter-hegemony which challenges the existing forms of subordination and oppression in order to assemble a set of often heterogeneous unresolved demands and objectives, thus setting off a struggle against the power elite. In the face of this dichotomy, the first to identify and distinguish the species of “populist dictatorship” and “populist democracy” is Margaret Canovan (1981), admitting the existence of both categories.5 With the term populist dictatorship, Canovan indicates several strongly anti-elitist, inter-classist political phenomena characterized by a broad mass mobilization made possible through the command of an undisputed leader to whom part of the population (or even the majority of the population) declares itself willing to recognize superior and undisputable qualities of government. This type of populism presents some special characteristics able to bring about the weakening of democratic institutions. Canovan includes in the category of populist dictatorship the parties of the extreme right inspired by fascist and Nazi ideology.6 The content attributed by Canovan to populist democracy is of a completely different nature. This category of populism aims to increase the people’s political participation in government institutions to achieve a sort of “radical democracy”. The distance between the governed and their governors tends to diminish to a minimal level. Taking up the same concept, Peter Mair (2002) described populist democracy as a democratic regime that functions in the absence of political parties, or without attributing a lot of weight to parties, with the aim of pursuing and serving the general interests of the people and the nation rather than animating the conflict between specific partisan interests. In this sense, though changing the meaning traditionally attributed to the term democracy, forms of populism can be conceived that are not antidemocratic and that set for themselves the task of pursuing the interests of the people, understood as an indivisible entity, against the interests of the national and international political oligarchy. Against the backdrop of these general premises regarding the various types of populism of every political color and degree, this book will proceed to study and analyze the Populist Radical Left Parties in Western Europe, highlighting the differences among the parties belonging to this specific category as well as the differences between them and other kinds of populist parties.

The PRLPs in Western Europe Having defined populism and neo-populism, and having highlighted the various connotations and declinations of those concepts, this volume will concentrate on the study of the European parties of the radical populist left active on the

8 Introduction international political scene in the thirty-years following the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989–2019).7 The following are the criteria used to select the parties included in this category. The identification of such political formations was possible thanks to the application of a threefold selection test: 1) Belonging to one of the countries of Western Europe. This expression, used particularly during the years of the Cold War, refers to European countries that have a common political and economic history, habitually associated with liberal democracy and a capitalist economic organization. In substance, Western Europe identifies the nucleus of countries of “western culture” belonging to NATO as distinct from those countries included in the Warsaw Pact, witnesses of a very different political and economic history; 2) Membership in the GUE/NGL (the Europarliamentary group constituted in 1994 to bring together in a single rassemblement the deputies elected to the European parliament in representation of the political forces of all member states of the Union positioned to the left of the socialist, socialdemocratic, and labour parties and/or the European Left (European party founded in 2004. These parties aim to reunite in a single transnational political formation the main parties of the European radical left “that strive for the consistent transformation of today’s social relationships into a peaceful and socially just society on the basis of the diversity of our situations, our histories and our common values” and that subscribe “to the values and traditions of the socialist, communist and labour movement, of feminism, the feminist movement and gender equality, of the environmental movement and sustainable development, of peace and international solidarity, of human rights, humanism and antifascism, of progressive and liberal thinking, both nationally and internationally”).8 This choice reflects the intention to select only those parties belonging to the vast area of the European radical left, positioned in the political space to the left of the parties of the reformist tradition.9 3) Having elected for at least two consecutive legislatures (in the period from 1989 to 2019) its own representatives to national parliaments and/or the European parliament. The rationale for this choice is to be found in the intention to concentrate solely on parties that demonstrate a significant degree of electoral representativeness. This last selection criterion eliminates from the list of parties: a) political formations that have not had, or have never had, a parliamentary experience and /or that have political roots only at the local level; b) improvised election lists and formations that last only for a short time or a single election campaign. For all the parties selected through application of the three criteria, we have collected their statutes, a sample of their political programs presented during European and national election campaigns held between 1989 and 2019 and a sample of political speeches delivered by leaders, party secretaries and presidents during the same period. All of this material has been subjected to the method of “content

Introduction  9 analysis” in order to select the parties of the European radical left that (in a limited period of time or for their entire political life) present explicitly populist characteristics aimed at developing a re-articulation of social conflict on the basis of the dyad people/elite, variously declined, in the cases examined, by way of the contraposition top/bottom.10 The combined result of all the described operations has permitted the identification of all the PRLPs in Western Europe active on the European political scene in the thirty years following the fall of the Berlin Wall. The following is a short description of the parties involved: 1) Podemos (Spain). Founded in 2014, on the occasion of the European elections held the same year, the party proposes itself as heir to the movement of the indignados, which in May 2011 burst onto the national and international political scene by way of massive public demonstrations; 2) France insoumise (France). Founded in 2016 to promote the candidacy of Jean-Luc Mélenchon in the presidential election of the following year. On that occasion, this newly born political formation gathered significant popular consensus, becoming a nationally important political force; 3) Syriza (Greece). Founded in 2004 from the merger of new and old parties of the Greek left (including Synaspismos), after the negative effects of the economic and financial crisis of the Great Recession, it becomes the center of gravity of the Greek political system, forming a national government from 2015 to 2019; 4) Partei des Demokratischen Sozialismus (Germany). Founded in 1990, following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of East Germany. Following its disbandment in 2007, the new party, Die Linke, was founded, constituting a proper national party by uniting the Partei des Demokratischen Sozialismus with several political fringe parties active in the former West Germany; 5) Parti du Travail de Belgique (Belgium). Founded in 1979, it is a party in the Maoist tradition. Among the few Belgian parties of a national nature present and active in both the Flemish and Francophone communities. After several decades of political marginality, it becomes, starting in the early 21st century, the protagonist of a significant political ascent; 6) Socialist Party (Netherlands). Founded in 1971 from a split with the Communist Party of the Netherlands, it too originally adopts Maoist positions. From its first years of life the party tries to dialogue with the most varied social sectors, and in the early 1990s it definitively abandons Marxist-Leninism; 7) Sinn Féin (Ireland). Founded in 1905 it is an ethno-regionalist party in the Marxist and Irish Republican tradition with a long history of advocating independence for Ireland, strongly rooted in the provinces of Northern Ireland. The book will treat in a comparative approach the history, principle characteristics and process of political transformation of these parties. At this point, we will limit

10 Introduction ourselves to pointing out that, in respect of the methodological criteria outlined herein, the list of the indicated parties, far from being a representative sample, constitutes the entire universe of reference of the PRLPs in Western Europe. A part of these political formations was founded before the crisis, operating primarily in the countries of Central and Northern Europe. Conversely, the parties founded after the economic crisis of the early 2000s operate (not coincidentally) in the countries of Mediterranean Europe. In the course of this volume we will also examine the political, economic and social factors comprising their different points of departure, developing an additional classification of the parties in order to propose a more specific taxonomy. Finally, to better understand the salient characteristics of the PRLPs we conducted a series of in-depth interviews based on a semi-structured questionnaire. The interviews were conducted with officials, leaders, national secretaries and presidents of the main parties involved. After transcription, the entire corpus of the responses became an essential point of reference for the elaboration of the reflections contained in the book. Some extracts from the interviews are faithfully reported in the chapters that follow in order to connect theoretical reflection to the voices of the key informants involved in the organization and leadership of the PRLPs in Western Europe.

Book outline The book is divided into three parts. The first part is devoted to the study and theoretical analysis of the conditions that led to the emergence of the PRLPs and to a discussion of their main characteristics. The first chapter considers and analyzes the conditions that bring about the transformation of contemporary political regimes and the opening up of a new political space occupied by the parties of the Populist Radical Left and their offer of a new political project. Specifically, we will concentrate our attention on analyzing the effects produced by the economic and political crisis that occurred at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries. Second, we will examine the new political cleavages that, together with more traditional fractures from the 1800s and 1900s (Lipset and Rokkan 1967), help to explain the dynamics of current conflicts. Finally, we will address the question of the formation of a new “people” of the European radical left, distinguishing it from the category of social class in Marxist tradition. In the second chapter we address the definitional question in order to circumscribe the meaning ascribed to the phenomenon of the populisms that have appeared in European countries. Lastly, we will analyze the question of the functional dynamics of the parties of the populist radical left, proposing a possible taxonomy of the various declinations and examples found in our research. The first part concludes with Chapter 3, devoted to the study of the values driving the activities of the PRLPs and the content that these values take on in the “social imaginary”. Moreover, in this same part of the book, we address the theme of “democratic sovereigntism” and how this concept is declined on the left in partial contradiction with the history of parties of the European left.

Introduction  11 Part 2 is devoted to the analysis of the main characteristics found among the various parties of the populist radical left. Each party is the subject of its own chapter. The objective is to present the similarities and differences found in the historical and political trajectories of the single PRLPs, highlighting in each case their specific national traits. Chapter 4 concentrates on the “forerunners of populism”, or the German case of the Partei des Demokratischen Sozialismus (Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS)). This is the party that pioneers the radical European left’s populist experience while maintaining some characteristics typical of the traditional radical left (e.g. attention to social justice) but adding to these a power. More recently, Die Linke (The Left), heir to the PDS, has continued on in this same direction, albeit with different characteristics than those of the Party of Democratic Socialism. Chapter 5 presents an (almost) ideal typical example of a European Populist Radical Left Party, the case of the Spanish party Podemos (We Can). Podemos is a political organization that, with respect to the definition of radical left-wing populism, presents characteristics resembling those of a political prototype. Chapter 6 describes Syriza (Coalition of the Radical Left), so far the only Populist Radical Left Party to become the governing party of an important European country. This case study offers the opportunity to illustrate the difficulties encountered by a Populist Radical Left Party in an actual governmental experience. Chapter 7 focuses on France insoumise (Unsubmissive France), which, in 2017 came very close to entering the runoff election in a presidential government with a political proposal centered on the promise of a “révolution citoyenne” (citizen revolution). The second part of the book concludes with Chapter 8, dedicated to the populist transition undergone by several parties with a long historical tradition. These examples demonstrate a high capacity for transformation in response to changes in the external political environment. The objective here is to understand the causes and conditions that allow for such adaptations in order to show how even a party carrying heavy ideological baggage from the Marxist tradition can become a populist party. The cases taken into consideration are the Socialist Party in the Netherlands, the Parti du Travail de Belgique (Workers’ Party of Belgium) and Sinn Féin (We Ourselves) in Ireland. The third and last part of the book concentrates on the main features, internal and external, of the PRLPs. Chapter 9 focuses on the internal dimension, attempting to understand their model of political organization, their leadership characteristics and the forms of membership participation. Chapter 10 focuses, instead, on the external dimension of the PRLPs in order to understand the process of political disintermediation that opens the way to a direct appeal to the people. We will look at the PRLPs’ communication strategies, the characteristics found in their experiences at all levels of government (national and local), and their declared positions with respect to their relations with the European Union. The objective of this volume is to illuminate the category of left-wing populism through the adoption of a comparative approach that brings together theoretical reflection and empirical research, identifying a series of case studies with which to test our initial hypothesis.

12 Introduction

Notes   1 After Sartori, other authors have gone back to reflect on the category of the “anti-system party”. Notable among these studies are the works of Capoccia (2002) and Zulianello (2019).   2 Gramsci was arrested by order of Mussolini and died in prison in 1937.   3 For further information on radical left parties, rather than review the whole literature on the topic, we suggest to read: March and Mudde (2005), March (2011), March and Keith (2016), Damiani (2016), Chiocchetti (2017).   4 There is ample international literature on populism. Rather than recapitulate the debate carried on in this literature, we will indicate here the main authors who have wrestled with the definition of the term and contributed to the critical debate on the subject. Among the classic authors, we would include Ionescu and Gellner (1969), Germani (1978), Canovan (1981), Lesher (1985), Shills (1996). The most important recent contributions are Taggart (2000), Mény and surel (2001), Laclau (2005), Mudde (2007), Albertazzi and McDonnell (2008), Kriesi (2014), de La Torre (2014, 2018), Mudde and Rovira Kaltwasser (2014), Pappas (2014, 2019); Kriesi and Pappas (2015), Akkerman et al. (2016), Moffitt (2016), Anselmi (2017), Rovira Kaltwasser et al. (2017), Eatwell and Goodwin (2018), Fitzi et al. (2019a, 2019b, 2019c), Blokker and Anselmi (2019), Norris and Inglehart (2019).   5 In synthesis, Canovan develops a sort of classification of populism, identifying two macro-categories: “Agrarian Populisms” and “Political Populisms”. In the first category, Canavan includes the above-described Russian and American experiences. The second category, instead, refers to experiences which are exquisitely political and constituted by different ideal-typical models, which she defines as populist dictatorship, populist democracy, Reactionary Populism and Politicians’ Populism.   6 In this regard, it has been remarked that the name “populist dictatorship”, while perfectly coherent with the political context of the first half of the 20th century, presents some heuristic weaknesses when it is applied to other historical contexts. For this reason, it is possible to replace this name with the expression “Authoritarian Populism”, which Canovan herself actually used as a synonym (Anselmi 2017).   7 Compared to the ample literature dedicated to populism and the parties of the radical populist right, studies of the European parties of the radial populist left are not very frequent. In this regard, we note the publication of a few anthological volumes: Castaño (2019), Katsambekis and Kioupkiolis (2019), Charalambous and Ioannou (2020).   8 Source: article 1 of the “Preamble” of the statute of the European left (source: www. european-left.org/statute/).   9 Membership in the GUE/NGL and/or the European Left Party is considered effective even though, in some cases, it occurred after the foundation of the PRLPs. 10 Empirically, this is a qualitative analysis performed by way of a “codebook” prepared ad hoc, which made it possible to organize the information gathered according to issues contained in the previously collected materials.

 

1

Conceptual framework

Social change and political transformation The fall of the Berlin Wall and the implosion of the Eastern Bloc socialist regimes are the historical events that marked the premature end of The Short Twentieth Century (Hobsbawm 1994). They sounded the death knell for the traditional political parties with strong ideological foundations. But the deeper causes of these changes reside elsewhere. Indeed, it is not possible to separate the analysis of the political transformations that took place at the turn of the 21st century from the study of contemporary processes of change in both the economic and sociocultural spheres. This chapter will examine these changes and their reciprocal conditioning effects to illustrate the principal metamorphoses of industrial society and, along with them, the evolving functional mechanisms of the political sphere and the constitutive process leading most recently to the formation of “new parties”. We begin with an analysis of changes in the economic realm. Regarding the 1800s, it is well known that Marx and Engels (1848), in the Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei, describe the development of modern industrial society in the 19th century as the history of class struggle between oppressors and oppressed. Unlike other classical authors who addressed the same theme (Durkheim 1893; Weber 1922), the dichotomous representation of political conflict between two opposing classes constitutes the foundation of Marxian analysis.1 Despite its undeniable complexity, its underlying thesis is easily synthesized. As holders of opposing material interests, the social classes, understood as homogenous groups of individuals occupying the same place in the capitalist process of production, become protagonists on the international political scene by way of a progressive development of collective consciousness aimed at the organization of the conflict and the conquest of power.2 In the Marxian reading of modern society the classes conceived as being in competition with each other are, in the last analysis, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. In this conceptualization, the centrality attributed to the idea of social class is indisputable. In the functional model of capitalist economy described with exceptional rigor by Marx in Das Kapital (1867–1883), class relations are conceived and incorporated in the relations of production, and more precisely in structures of property and control characteristic of that same form of social relations (Crompton 1993).

14  Conceptual framework Marxian theory paints a perfectly representative picture of the processes of change transforming modern society. Nevertheless, in the course of its history, the market economy modeled on industrial production has shown a significant transformative capacity, which in the short term allows it to effect profound change in prevailing power relationships. As early as the closing years of the 1950s, debate had already begun concerning the crisis of social classes. Ralf Dahrendorf (1959), in his book Class and Class Conflict in Industrial Society, asks what appears to be a rhetorical question: “do we still have a class society?” And again, “are there still classes?” Dahrendorf’s reflections highlight the innovative potential of a capitalist society. In his view, although founded on solid and creditable grounds, class theory is no longer sufficient by itself to explain the complexity of the functional mechanisms of contemporary society. The discussion about the overcoming of a class-divided society (this discussion is distinct from the debate over inequality, which in the early years of the 21st century became more heated in Europe than it was during the “Glorious Thirties”)3 became more intense in subsequent decades. One of the most telling testimonies in this regard came from the British sociology of Lee and Turner (1996), which preceded the Blairian reflections on the Third Way (Giddens 1998). Lee and Turner defined class theory, typical of modern society, as a “weak” theory, incapable of providing a causal explanation of the historical changes in contemporary society. This line of thinking intersects with the reflections put forward by authors engaged in the study of globalization. According to Ulrich Beck (2002), in a complex and globalized economy, the concept of social class becomes a “zombie category”, largely inadequate for the task of describing structures of inequality and contemporary political practices. For this reason, a full understanding of the mechanisms of social complexity is conditioned on an analysis of the ties linking the globalization process to the restructuring of the capitalist system of production implemented by businesses and large mass organizations through strategies of decentralizing, delocalizing and outsourcing of production (Castells 1996).4 In this regard, one of the most important contributions to the critical interpretation of modernity and the advent of “postmodernity” is that of Harvey (1989). In the view of the American philosopher, and the theme of much of the discussion in response to his work, the political and cultural transformation that has occurred in western countries is the consequence of the transition imposed by post-Fordism following the rise of a renewed capitalist model capable of theorizing and imposing the dominance of economics over politics (Harvey 2005; Cahill and Konings 2017; Cahill 2018). This transition has led to a restructuring of the institutional relationship between government and the market, unbalanced in favor of the market in the name of competition and the promotion of individual, private desires over collective and public objectives (Brown 2015). These are the same principles that have animated and contributed to the founding of the neoliberal capitalist model. All of this has led to the search for a new political rationality which promotes the logic of competition and rivalry as the universal behavioral norm, swallowing up every ambit of the human sphere and producing new dynamics of subjugation that threaten to

Conceptual framework  15 erode the premises and foundations of democratic political systems (Dardot and Laval 2010). In this perspective, at the turn of the 21st century, neoliberal capitalism became the dominant model for the international economic system, showing itself to be much stronger than its most important critics could have imagined. The power of post-Fordist capitalism, and particularly the force of the neoliberal capitalist system, is rooted in its capacity to reproduce the conditions of its own survival regardless of the contingent difficulties created by its political adversaries and by transformations in the outside world (Boltanski and Chiapello 1999). What has been taking shape is a form of “postcapitalism” capable of self-preservation despite frequent and recurring cyclical crises and the effects produced in terms of social inequality (Mason 2015). These changes, attributed to the modalities of transformation in the economic sphere, have also produced important outcomes in the sphere of political relationships, leading to a direct – not static but ongoing – correspondence in modern society between modes of industrial production and forms of political organization. In his attempt to prove that correlation and dependence, Marco Revelli (2013) asserts that all the “20th century organizational machines” which operated in industrial society shared the same characteristics (whether they were factories, armies, political parties, churches, or large bureaucracies) showing an “intrinsic tendency toward giganticism” and the incorporation of the masses into large organizational systems (Marinelli 2017). This model, also adopted by highly ideological mass political parties with a hierarchical internal organization, structured around a rigid pyramidal nucleus with a large and militant base (Duverger 1951), entered into crisis upon modification of the configuration of economic relationships that had structured traditional forms of political participation. In other words, with the onset of the transformation of the capitalist model of economic production, with the abandonment of the Fordist industrial system and the emergence of neoliberal capitalism, the social configuration that up to that moment had contributed to the structuring of the forms of political organization interpreted by the bureaucratic mass parties began to break down. In this context, there began to arise models of “light” political parties, more functional to the representation of newly organized interests centered on the pursuit of post-materialist needs (Inglehart 1977, 1996) with a low ideological content and a less structured internal organization. In the face of renewed external conditions, the electoral marketplace, too, has taken on fluctuating and unstructured characteristics with citizen-electors who demonstrate increasingly unpredictable and incoherent behavior in the political space of contemporary democracies (Mair 2013; Morlino and Raniolo 2017). All of this has led to profound changes which have combined to transform the institutional framework that had been taking shape in Europe in the second half of the 20th century, giving rise to constantly changing political organizations (Scarrow et al. 2017). But that’s not all. Overlapping with changes in the economic sphere, an equally significant role in modifying political relationships has been played by social and cultural transformations produced by the process of “individualization” characteristic of the history of European democracies (Macpherson 1962; Blumenberg 1960, 1982; Taylor 1989, 1991; Laurent 1993). The term “individualization” refers

16  Conceptual framework to an historical process of emancipation of the individual from forms of belonging proper to traditional societies, such as the family, lineage, social status, religion and community. This emancipatory process tends to increase the level of selfconsciousness, stimulating the push for self-determination and self-realization and allowing the individual to experience a greater degree of freedom than in the past (Habermas 1981a, 1981b). In premodern societies, the value and position of individuals depended substantially on the value and position of the group to which they belonged. Members of the same group shared the same values, lifestyle, economic condition and cultural position. Thus, social status was acquired at birth, and the chances of social mobility were few or none at all. Nevertheless, despite the cost measured in terms of individual liberty, this framework allowed for the formation of stable and enduring organizational models. In the modern era, although in very different conditions compared to the past, the division of society into classes continued to ensure to individuals a formalized modality of collective belonging. It is the breakdown of social classes (recalled above) that has suddenly accelerated the move toward models of increased human self-realization. This expression is meant to indicate the principle according to which the individual, increasingly independent from his/her own personal social ties, finds himself in the condition of being able to choose his/her own destiny, becoming solely responsible for his actions, despite the continued presence of real limits on individual choice and profound inequalities among members of the same political community (Germani 1991; Laurent 1994; Dumond 1983). The progressive growth of individual liberty has been matched by significant decomposition of the social fabric and safety nets constructed in the past (Bauman 1999, 2000). Outstanding, in this regard, is a robust process of disaggregation that contributes to the unraveling of interpersonal ties and produces individuals who are increasingly isolated from the tight fabric of social relationships that still persisted in modern society. In line with this critical reading of the social transformation process, Robert Castel (1995) has introduced the concept of désaffiliation, referring to the effects of progressive disaggregation in contemporary society and, along with them, the risk of breaking preexisting ties among the population of a given political community. According to Castel, the renewed organization of social relationships typical of the post-industrial era runs the risk of creating a partial or total lack of social cohesion and, as a consequence, the elimination of a sense of the individual’s sense of identification with and belonging to a common social unit. The result of the combined effects of the transformation of the capitalist economic model and progressive process of social individualization has been a growing detachment of individuals from their respective groups of belonging, sparking a profound transformation of the mechanisms of democratic regulation (Elliott and Lemert 2006; Elliott 2016). The relationship between individuals (undergoing an intense process of individualization) and politics (dissociated from the class relations typical of the modern era) has brought about a further redefinition of the modalities of representation, thus provoking the breakdown of traditional political parties and the dissolution of the formerly close connection between the pursuit of objectives of a general interest and rigidly structured models of political

Conceptual framework  17 organization. This is the context of the rise of the phenomenon of personalization, which, in the contemporary era, is causing a profound transformation of the principle of representation at the base of all western democracies. This process, in concomitance with the process of progressive social individualization, enlarges the importance, the power and the functions of the leader in the political sphere, diminishing the weight of groups, movements and parties in the processes of identification, socialization and construction of collectively important political phenomena (McAllister 2007; Poguntke and Webb 2005; Karvonen 2010; Garzia 2014; Raniolo et al. 2015; Balmas and Sheafer 2016). What we have described so far has led to a weakening of the mediation mechanisms of traditional politics and, therefore, the redefinition of the social bases of democracy and the institutional dynamics of the distribution of power. The consequence is a deterioration of some of the roles classically associated with political parties, such as the functions of aggregation and articulation of interests and demands emerging from the electorate (de Nardis 2019; Anselmi and de Nardis 2018). In this context, political parties have experienced a progressive reduction of the legitimacy that they enjoyed in the past, both in the input phase of the political process, that is, in their relationship to civil society, and in the output phase, in relation to their capacity to govern in terms of policies (Caramani 2017). What we have, then, is an acceleration of the search for and emergence of new models and instruments of participation, which, far from being generated by the formalized cleavages in the scheme proposed by Lipset and Rokkan (1967)5 appear to be structured around new fractures and renewed social conflicts. In the following section we will examine these considerations to arrive at a better understanding of the reasons for the decline of traditional forms of political organization and the rise of the European “new parties”.

Old and new European cleavages Economic, social and cultural changes in the contemporary era have contributed to the structuring of a more highly complex political space compared to the past (Kitschelt 1994; Kriesi 1998). There is, therefore, a need for further reflection in order to understand the nature of the ongoing process of change and the characteristics of the social fractures that are bringing about the reallocation of conflict and with it the birth of new forms of political organization. The origins of these changes lie in the emergence of new needs and the rise of renewed economic and socio-cultural models at the turn of the 21st century, with important effects in the political sphere. We begin our reflections on these changes starting from the genetic approach of Lipset and Rokkan (1967).6 Their study of the development of political parties starts with the long-term systemic effects connected with the phenomenon of the so-called freezing proposition. The belief is that the parties present on the European political scene through the second half of the 20th century reflected, with few exceptions, the structure of the social fractures of the 1920s so that the parties active in that period continued to maintain over the mid to long term their

18  Conceptual framework exclusive ties with a specific segment of the population. These ties enabled them to make constant appeals to the ideological or religious divisions and/or to specific ethnic characteristics capable of producing significant consequences even many years after their initial appearance (Norris 2004). According to this interpretation, traditional social cleavages constitute the precondition for the formulation of true and proper “long-term coalitions” founded on the alliance between certain sectors of the population and the political organizations that appoint themselves to represent their interests (Viviani 2016). In line with this thesis, and in relation to the continuous and strikingly fast transformations occurring over the course of contemporary history, several studies subsequent to the work of Lipset and Rokkan (Bartolini 2000, 2005; Deegan-Krause 2007) continue to see a relationship between the appearance of other social fractures and more recent processes of political construction, thus highlighting the relationship between the formation of “new cleavages” and the foundation of what can properly be called “new parties”. In particular, the international literature refers to the new social fractures in an effort to explain the development process of three different types of political parties, each with its own ethos: neo-fascist, green, and populist.7 The first category of parties grows out of the political climate generated in Europe between the two world wars, at a time when frequent democratic crises contributed to the establishment of authoritarian and totalitarian political regimes. In line with what had happened in the past, the effects produced by the tradition/ innovation dichotomy would seem to have persisted even into the second post-war period, giving rise to political organizations of neo-fascist derivation faithful to the old reactionary principles and originating from the explosion of problems connected to the development of industrial society, which had given rise to historical fascism in the early years of the 20th century (Ignazi 1994). The second category of parties, on the other hand, is the product of the postindustrial evolution occurring in Europe between the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s in defense of the environment and in favor of “sustainable development”. In this case, the political interpreters able to represent this form of formalized interests were the green parties, capable of giving voice to needs and values of a prevalently “post-materialistic” nature as opposed to the “materialistic” needs and values rooted in economic conflict. It is in this regard that Dalton (1988) distinguishes Old Politics, centered on the defense of interests and values tied to traditional social fractures, from New Politics, arising out of post-materialist concerns focused on the rights of minorities, the improvement of nonconventional lifestyles, the protection of the environment and grassroots participation. Last, the third category of parties evoked by this system of classification is traceable to carriers of contrasting visions of identity vis-à-vis the standardizing effects of neoliberal capitalist economic and production models and the globalized economy. These parties have come to the defense of the linguistic and cultural identities of their own national or local communities, establishing new forms of political organizations that insert themselves in the intersections of conflicts produced by post-industrial society of the second post-war (Ignazi 2006). It is to those conflicts and to their resulting forms of political organization that we now wish to

Conceptual framework  19 turn our attention with the aim of examining the question related to the analysis of the new cleavages in relation to the formation of the so-called new parties. Specifically, at the turn of the 21st century, the revolution associated with the phenomenon of globalization contributed, as had the national and industrial revolutions, to the birth of new political parties and movements capable of capitalizing on the effects caused by the transformations then in progress. Globalization, defined as a process of the intensification of trade and investments on a worldwide scale, able to conceive and create nationally interdependent relationships having direct consequences in the social, cultural and technological fields (generating a progressive unification of national commerce, customs, ideas and cultures), also produces significant changes on the political level (Sassen 1998, 2006; Beck 1999, 2009; Bauman 1998; Stiglitz 2002, 2006). This process has determined two coherent and consequent effects. On the one hand, it leads to the creation of renewed forms of political authority and new channels of transnational, international and and/or supranational representation (Della Porta et al. 1999). On the other, it has brought with it profound political implications with important consequences in the lives of single individuals (Zürn et al. 2000).8 For all of these reasons, the literature traces a connection of direct correspondence between the process of globalization and the formation of a new cleavage responsible for the appearance of new kinds of political parties. This is the view of Kriesi et al. (2008), whose work is aimed at highlighting yet another social fracture, this time in the form of the contraposition of two different categories of citizens, divided into globalization “winners” and “losers”. By explaining the differences between the various groups in conflict with one another, Kriesi’s book makes an important contribution to the refinement of the “cleavage politics” approach. In the authors’ view, globalization has created a political sphere divided between, on one side, the group of winners, who see their chances of increased earnings greatly improved thanks to the opportunities presented by the process of “denationalization” and the opening up of international markets (Zürn 1998), and on the opposite front, the group of losers includes all those who perceive a progressive decline of their standard of living, expressed in the social costs that globalization has inflicted on employment flows and income distribution mechanisms.9 As a result of these divisions, we are witnessing a remarkable “repoliticization” of politics. The novelty lies in the fact that a growing number of citizens is becoming aware of the negative effects created by the ongoing transformations, contributing to the formation of a public opinion polarized between those in favor of and those against globalization (De Wilde 2011). In support of this thesis, Kriesi et al. (2008) submit that the new forms of global competition lead to the polarization of these two opposing groups of citizens, supporters of contrasting positions with respect to the opening of national borders: losers tend to support “demarcationist” responses to “denationalization” while winners tend to endorse “integrationist” positions. The globalization losers are citizens who consider social status and security as inalienable conquests won historically through the instruments of regulation and social protections implemented as part of the democratizing process of the

20  Conceptual framework nation-state. This category of people identifies with their own national community, with its internal norms and with their political institutions of belonging. In substance, the losers conceive the opening of national borders as a threat to their way of life and as a risk of economic and socio-cultural backsliding that they would rather avoid. On the contrary, globalization winners are supporters of universal and cosmopolitan cultural referents, promoters of opportunities connected to the opening of national borders and the expansion of international markets (Kriesi et al. 2008, 2012; Bornschier 2010). The question of identity and the safeguarding of their respective organized interests is at the heart of the conflict between globalization winners and losers. Several studies have found that these two types of citizens can be identified according to different and specific socio-demographic characteristics. Kriesi et al. (2008, 2012) and Bornschier (2010) use two specific variables to explain the opposing positions: level of education and occupational status. According to this hypothesis, a higher level of education would provide citizens with the necessary knowledge and skills to allow them to benefit from the advantages created by the opening of borders. The higher one’s cultural capital, the greater one’s awareness of the advantages connected with globalization. Occupational status, on the other hand, distinguishes the various sectors of the population on the basis of the perceived risk related to the pressure exerted by the globalization process. According to this interpretation, the higher the occupational status, the lower will be the perceived sense of insecurity created by the enlargement of borders and the effects produced by international competition. It is evident, therefore, how these dynamics, tied to the level of education and occupational status, are capable of distinguishing two different target populations with different collective interests and different attitudes with respect to consequent political behaviors (Walter 2010). Along the same lines, Azmanova’s findings represent an additional step forward in the study of cleavage politics (Azmanova 2011). The author identifies two further opposing categories with respect to the effects of globalization: “cosmopolitanism” and “sovereigntism”, responsible in turn for the appearance of an “opportunity-risks cleavage”, capable of intersecting the traditional political spectrum aligned along the left-right axis. The cleavage identified by Azmanova contraposes cosmopolitanism and open economic positions against sovereigntism and closed economic position. In this case as well, the conflict regards one part of the population that is more willing to welcome with favor the novelties tied to processes of international transformation, and another part opposed to the effects produced by such changes. Azmanova imputes the causes of this conflict to international migration and the process of European integration. In harmony with the findings of Bartolini and Mair (1990) with regard to issues related to cleavage politics, Azmanova also sees the presence of value principles as a fundamental component of this new fracture. In this same theoretical framework, the analysis of Segatori (2015b) is also worthy of note. With regard to the transformations set in motion by globalization and the neoliberal economic restructuring, the Italian sociologist identifies a cleavage that distinguishes between the “socially secure” and the “socially insecure”.

Conceptual framework  21 According to Segatori, the socially secure can be defined as those citizens who benefit from the coverage of the welfare state and from the safety net of social services established in the second half of the 20th century (namely, public employees with permanent employment contracts and employees of medium-size and large enterprises with strong union representation). On the opposite side, the socially insecure are defined as all those citizens who, in the face of neoliberal reforms cutting back the public functions of the state, and in the wake of the economic and financial crisis, which has reduced the extent and resources of social welfare services, no longer enjoy the same social protections, thus perceiving a greater risk of insecurity, precariousness and progressive impoverishment of their standard of living (those directly affected are, in the first place, the unemployed, low status self-employed individuals and temporary workers). As a result of changes and in order to maintain their electoral appeal, the traditional parties on the left and the right, heirs to the mass political parties, have been forced to introduce significant changes in their value systems and traditional organizational structure because they are no longer capable of intercepting and representing the demands of the socially insecure. Segatori’s argument resembles the thesis proposed by Barr (2009) with regard to the model of contraposition that pits “establishment” citizens against “antiestablishment” citizens. The anti-establishment category includes all those who declare their opposition to the forces of the establishment and those who, in a given political system, have access to political or appointive office (Schedler 1996). In this sense, the anti-establishment includes all those who show themselves capable of representing the widespread “resentment” among the citizenry, increasingly hostile to the ruling class of office holders (Poguntke 1987, 1996; Poguntke and Scarrow 1996). Nevertheless, Rosanvallon (2006) finds that the anti-establishment in contemporary democratic systems, far from displaying attitudes typical of “antipolitics”, voices demands for greater political participation, if only for the control, oversight and punishment of the governing class. In this perspective, even when they are against the choices made by the establishment, anti-establishment citizens do not oppose politics per se but look for the chance to represent the political issues forgotten by the governing establishment. Whether we are dealing with winners and losers, cosmopolites or sovereigntists, the socially secure and insecure, establishment and anti-establishment, beyond the nuances and the various sensibilities of the competing hypotheses, the globalization process does indeed bring about new social cleavages, setting off an original reallocation of political conflict between two recomposed and contraposed groups. From this point of view, the reorganization of conflict around the dynamics we have described makes it possible to superimpose and intertwine the cleavages of the past with those of the present, thus establishing a new point of departure. Specifically, for the study of the various forms of the European new left, we are interested in superimposing and interweaving the old capital/labor fracture with the new fracture, defined as the conflict between globalization winners and losers (or their equivalents as outlined in this section). In this way, we can identify a new opposition between two different political categories which we can summarize in

22  Conceptual framework terms of the conflict between a generic “us” and an indistinct “them”, which, in the last analysis, has as its protagonists the “people” (understood as those occupying the lower positions in the social hierarchy) against the “elites” (those occupying the higher spheres of the same social hierarchy) (Canovan 1981). In this view, the people include all those persons (workers, and not only) who recognize themselves in the negative representation of the effects produced by globalization and the consequences of the neoliberal economic policies pursued by the principle European governments at the turn of the 21st century. The elites, on the other hand, include all those (owners of the means of production, but not only) who benefit directly from those policies. All of this has produced important and inevitable effects on the model of political organization, the formation of parties, and the interpretation of post-industrial society (Barbieri 2018). In the following section, our attention will be concentrated on the process of transformation in progress at the beginning of the third millennium so that we can understand and interpret the ongoing changes and, in particular, their consequences for the European left.

From class to the people As outlined above, the appearance of new parties in the post-ideological era owes its origins to the interweaving and partial superimposition of “old” and new cleavages. Until the 1970s the regulatory mechanisms of industrial society permitted the formation of the “historical bloc” (Gramsci 1929–1935) of the working class, whose encounter with the theory of historical materialism led to the formation of the Marxist parties of the social-communist tradition, with a strong ideological foundation and a solid organizational model. In the fifty years that followed, the crisis of the Fordist system, neoliberal processes of economic restructuring, the development of globalization, the progressive loss of jobs in the industrial sector of western countries, the spread of applied digital technologies and automation in capitalist production, in concert with the process of individualization characteristic of a “complex society”, worked together (in unison) to create a political framework different from that of the past. The social structure was redefined, with classes losing their central role and the formation of a plurality of single individuals, unbound from their respective groups of belonging and from traditional social organizations (movements, parties, trade unions, associations). What this process produces is a multiplicity of individuals, men and women, incapable of sharing with others, or capable of sharing only minimally, a political content of general interest. In order to describe and interpret the functional model of this post-industrial society, we shall refer, at the outset, to the category of the “multitude”. Already conceived and imagined in the 18th century by Hobbes (1642) and Spinoza (1677), the concept of the multitude has been reproposed in the contemporary era by, among others, Hardt and Negri (2004). For Spinoza, the multitude consists of a plurality of individuals which persists as such in dealing with common problems without ever converging into a collective one. Nevertheless, Spinoza

Conceptual framework  23 recognizes in the multitude the characteristic phenomenon of the social and political life of the time as the specific condition of the many as the many. Contrary to Spinoza, Hobbes contests the presumed positive value of this same category insofar as he considers it incapable of making individuals converge into a single systemic unit. According to Hobbes, the multitude is a danger and a threat to the formation and institutional endurance of the sovereign state. Being a manifestation of the “state of nature”, the multitude must be resisted because it is opposed to political unity and obedience, reluctant to enter into agreements and averse to transferring its own natural rights to the sovereign (Virno 2002). At a distance of some three hundred years since the analyses proposed by Spinoza and Hobbes, the crisis of industrial society gave rise to an epic of great historical changes, in the face of which the categories that had been used to interpret modern society appeared to be worn out and obsolete. Their obsolescence made it necessary to find more efficient interpretive categories capable of explaining the ongoing transformations. In this regard, with collective political representation having lost its autonomy and heuristic potential, the individual dimension once again took on an important political connotation. For this reason, political science research has gone back to recover the notion of the multitude (Virno 2006). Without pretending to provide an exhaustive account of what has been an extensive and complex scholarly discussion, we will try to highlight how this category of the multitude is capable of explaining some of the changes that have come about in post-industrial society. The basic idea is that after the Fordist era, a different social dynamic took shape, leading to social fragmentation and the disassociation of individuals who had been members of a common human community. While in modern history the category of the proletariat or working class was subsumed in the category of social class, for Hardt and Negri (2000) that same category loses its central role in contemporary society, both in the cycle of capitalist economic production and in the prevailing forms of social organization. According to this hypothesis, the international political scene has been marked by the advance of a new and highly complex element which, structured around much different modalities than in the past, we can identify with the term multitude. The new definition of multitude thus acquires a central place in contemporary political science discussions because it has the capability of representing a systemic figuration of the characteristics of the post-Fordist workforce, the nature of the protest movements against the new modalities of social exploitation, the dissolution of traditional forms of representation and the entry on the scene of new configurations of political action. Specifically, the multitude is used to describe the inadequacy and explanatory insufficiency of social class and to better identify the leading players in the political conflict of the third millennium. Insofar as it is a multiplying factor of so many singularities, the multitude seems once again to express the content of the recently developed social differentiation. It is represented as a sort of widemesh net, composed of points with a low density of connection, cohabited by various cultures, ethnicities and genders but also by individuals belonging to distinct professions, coming from dissimilar social backgrounds, with different levels of education, different lifestyles and discordant world views.

24  Conceptual framework The contemporary political science and sociological literature presents two opposing positions with respect to the multitude. On the one hand, the reflections of Hardt and Negri (2004, 2009) recognize in the multitude a new social protagonism because of its ability to overcome the opposition between “commonality” and “singularity”. According to these two authors, the multitude typical of post-industrial society has the opportunity of gaining substantial room for political maneuvering to the extent that the units that compose it manage (despite everything) to demonstrate their ability to act collectively, governing themselves, based on the characteristics which they have in “commonwealth”. On the opposite end, we have the analysis of Callinicos (2001) and above all of Laclau (2005) who contest the possibility that the multitude can manage to maintain its heterogeneity while succeeding at the same time in carrying out an exclusive political action in the service of a unified and common goal. In this second hypothesis, recourse to the category of the multitude turns out to be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the multitude is expressive of a complex framework of transformation and capable of interpreting the progressive fragmentation of the political sphere and the corresponding changes in society. On the other hand, however, it provides a weak instrument for political action, highlighting the inadequacy of traditional modes of political organization without managing to build the foundation of a new political subject in the service of collective interests, with a leading role in the changes now in progress. It is in this context that a new interpretive concept, in the view of some scholars more effective than the multitude in representing the changes in contemporary society, has begun to emerge (Bonichi 2016). After the decline of the category of social class, and in an attempt to recompose the fragmentation of the multitude, the concept of “the people” has come to the fore. Indeed, it is around this very concept, and around the desire to formulate a new collective one, with the aim of taking the lead in a unified way of the process of transformation now in progress, that there have emerged, in Europe, the protagonists of the new political season. Their objective is to compose and reconstruct a common platform for the formulation of a new political program. In the following pages we will attempt to circumscribe and describe the concept of the people, devoting particular attention to its use in the large field of the European new left. What is meant, then, by the people? How can the people be best interpreted in the post-ideological political dynamic? The perspective we will adopt here will consider the people as a sort of new “historical bloc”, the carrier of a different content than the Marxian category of social class, surely more homogenous than the multitude, and potentially capable of recomposing a unitary social actor around which to imagine a political platform fit for the purpose of interpreting post-industrial society and the reconstruction of a collective social intellectual (Damiani 2019a, 2019b). The first question to examine concerns the meaning to attribute to this concept. The term “people”, in fact, contains within it a high level of ambiguity. It could refer to the entire population of a country or only one part of it (Mény and Surel 2001). First of all, the category of the people is used in reference only to those individuals who share a specific nationality or a certain political culture, excluding all

Conceptual framework  25 other groups of the population. In France, for example, the Front National defines the people as French nationals only. By the same principle, in Catalonia, the Catalonian people includes only the citizens of that same autonomous community. In the days of Umberto Bossi, Italy’s Northern League conceived of the people as the “people of the North” people, in contrast with all residing in the regions of southern Italy. Regardless of all the heuristic problems involved in its definition, in all cases mentioned, the people is defined in terms of certain geographical, national or regional characteristics recognized as having presumed forms of collective belonging based on factors of an historical or cultural nature (Campi 2007). The people can also be understood, however, in reference to a specific community “of blood”. In Hitler’s time, the German people were identified with a common genetic heritage, which in the political imagination of the Führer coincided with belonging to the community of the Aryan race. Furthermore, the people can also be understood as the members of a common religious community. This is the basis of several political regimes present in certain areas of Asia and Africa (Di Tella 1997). In light of all this, it is evident that the term people is a polysemic term whose meaning changes depending on the context in which it is used, making it impossible to identify a univocal definition.10 Nevertheless, we can still identify some common traits which, notwithstanding the different political interpretations, define the minimal common content attributed to the term. In general, every definition of the people: 1) represents an indivisible entity that is the depository of virtues capable of constituting the exclusive front of the political and social legitimacy of a presumed human community (Mény and Surel 2000: 2) allows the identification of an “us”, which presupposes the opposition of a “them”. In populist narration, “them” represents all those who question the superiority of the people (understood as “us”), in the attempt to deprive the people of all their rights, values, prosperity, identity and voice (Albertazzi and McDonnell 2008: 3) identifies a specific “imagined community” (Anderson 1983) composed of a set of subjects, often very different from one another, who even without being in direct contact feel that they share a common destiny (Tarchi 2003). The concept of the people, with a lower degree of internal homogeneity than that of social class, but equally distant from the pointillistic model of individuals disconnected from one another typical of the multitude, envisions an enlarged political community which is presumed to be capable of interpreting the interests of a new collective subject composed of individuals who may live in very different conditions but who are nonetheless joined together by a minimal amount of general interest. Every attempted internal division of the people is interpreted by those appealing to the concept as a false and artificial decomposition, created ad hoc by the economic, political and cultural elites in the pursuit of the artificial separation of popular interests with a presumed human community. As we have mentioned before, apart from all the possible nuances and variations, what unites the people is first and foremost the contraposition of “us” – “good” and “authentic” people who are the expression of a “pure” people, members of a specific “imagined community” – and “them” – “wicked” and “corrupt” “elites”, capable of unleashing a bitter political conflict against the defense of popular interests.

26  Conceptual framework Returning to the focus of our argument, there is one specific vision of the people that constitutes the political platform of some European new left parties. Their adoption of this concept as a core principle signals a profound transformation, marking an indelible line of demarcation between before and after that distinguishes the classist parties of the traditional left from the parties of the post-modern left. The former came into being to give political representation to members of social classes in competition with one another, the latter to provide a response to the increasingly complex demands coming from a people no longer portrayable in its exclusive and homogenous dimension of class. In the pages that follow, we will try to illustrate the content and the main characteristics of the people of the European new left parties and the consequences for their model of political organization. The most important analysis in this regard is that advanced by Ernesto Laclau. The Argentine philosopher is the author of quite an original reflection on the idea of the people, constructed and molded on a Latin American political model. The main thread of his argument is very clear. If for liberalism the people are a subject hypostatized as the foundation of republican sovereignty, in the perspective indicated by Laclau (2005), the people implies the construction of a new collective subject, to be created ex-novo by way of the division between an “us” (of subordinates) and a “them” (of superordinates). In particular, to define and circumscribe the people, Laclau draws on the so-called logic of equivalence or the process by which apparently diverse demands come to artificially compose a single collective subject to the extent that diverse social groups identify with the same political project. Laclau goes on to call popular demands “a plurality of demands which, through their equivalent articulation, constitute a broader social subjectivity” (Laclau 2005: 74), along the lines of what Gramsci (1929–1935) called a “historical bloc”. For Laclau, the people do not emerge from the simple composition of all the demands constituting the equivalential chain but from the construction itself of the chain. In this perspective, the people become a sort of “empty signifier” which assumes its own identity connotation on the basis of the equivalential chain of the popular demands. The longer the chain, the less each of its singular signifieds will be anchored to their original specific demands, taking on a progressive value of political universality. Just as for the authors of gestalt psychology, the surrounding universe was not reducible to the sum of its parts, for Laclau the totality of all the demands accumulated in the equivalential chain makes it possible to formulate a political proposal that is different and more complex than the sum of the single demands. In the Laclauian scheme, popular identity is strongly conditioned by the formulation of the chain of presented demands. The unifying thread that holds together the various popular demands is the terrain on which the people can propose to construct their own hegemony, which, however, can be achieved only where it is possible to accomplish the collective formulation of the individual demands by way of political practices strongly conditioned by the logic of language. To clarify this concept, Laclau gives the following example:

Conceptual framework  27 think of a large mass of agrarian migrants who settle in the shantytowns on the outskirts of a developing industrial city. Problems of housing arise, and the group of people affected by them request some kind of solution from the local authorities. Here we have a demand which initially is perhaps only a request. If the demand is satisfied, that is the end of the matter; but if it is not, people can start to perceive that their neighbours have other, equally unsatisfied demands – problems with water, health, schooling, and so on. If the situation remains unchanged for some time, there is an accumulation of unfulfilled demands and an increasing inability of the institutional system to absorb them in a differential way (each in isolation from the others), and an equivalential relation is established between them. The result could easily be, if it is not circumvented by external factors, a widening chasm separating the institutional system from the people. (Laclau 2005: 73–74) In his book, On Populist Reason, Laclau attempts to describe the constitutive process that leads to the formation of the people by employing even more complex examples: let us think of a certain neighbourhood where there is racial violence, and the only local forces capable of organizing an anti-racist counter-offensive are the trade unions. Now, in a strictly literal sense, the function of the unions is not to fight racism but to negotiate wages and other related issues. If, however, the anti-racist campaign is taken up by the unions, it is because there is a relation of contiguity between the two issues in the same neighbourhood. A relation of displacement between terms, issues, agents, and so on, is what is called, in rhetoric, a metonymy. Let us suppose, next, that this connection between anti-racist and trade union struggles continues for a certain time: in that case, people will start to feel that there is a natural link between the two types of struggle. So the relation of contiguity will start to shade into one of analogy, the metonymy into a metaphor. (Laclau 2005: 109) Laclau’s analysis seems to return to the original lexical meaning attributed to the term “the people”. In European languages, along with other social categories, the word people also includes the poor, the disinherited and the excluded. For example, the Italian term popolo, the French people and the Spanish pueblo indicate both the overall group of citizens understood as a unitary political body (“the Italian people”, “the French people”, or “the Spanish people”) and those belonging to the lower social classes (workers, the unemployed, low income families, the undereducated, the socially marginalized). In English as well, although the term “people” assumes an undifferentiated political connotation, it maintains at the same time the meaning of “ordinary people” as opposed to members of the upper classes or the aristocracy. The expression “a man/woman of the people”, for example, refers to a political leader or celebrity who comes from, represents

28  Conceptual framework and/or is admired by ordinary people and not the upper classes. In his use of the term with this meaning, therefore, Laclau helps to formalize the sense attributed to the term people, recognizing in it a functional role in the composition of a new typology of political parties on the European left. In this sense of the word, far from being people-ethnos, based on territory and blood, nor being people-plebs or people-class, based on economic criteria (Mény and Surel 2000), the people of the new European left parties harkens back to people-demos, aimed at reformulating the tensions between popular sovereignty and political representation. Indeed, if modern democracy (differently from the direct democracy of the Greek polis) is based on the distinction between holding sovereignty and exercising sovereignty, the denunciation of all forms of betrayal of the demos expresses a harsh criticism of the ruling class currently in power (Bordignon 2013). In this regard, the choice of the term demos rather than politeia is no coincidence. Though for the Greeks politeia is a broad concept, capable of including within itself the sharing of common values able to ensure the pursuit of certain unitary goals, demos indicates, more simply, the popular sector of the population (as opposed to the aristocracy) which pursues, through the exercise of government power, the goal of overthrowing the oligarchic domination of the elites. In this way, the groundwork has been laid for the so-called post-ideological populist left, no longer founded on class struggle rooted in the clash between capital and labor but rather a conflict of us versus them, redefined and reinterpreted according to the bottom versus top scheme of the demos against the caste of political professionals. Moving from theoretical to empirical considerations, we can note that the constitutive process that leads to the convocation of the people of the populist left parties at the turn of the 21st century can be synthesized in the Spanish example of the convocation of the indignados movement in 2011 (Castañeda 2012; Della Porta and Mattoni 2014; Della Porta 2015). It is that people who, a few years later, gave rise to a new and anomalous political subject compared to the existing traditional parties (Cruells and Ibarra 2013). We will examine the case of Podemos and its relationship with the indignados in the chapters that follow. For now, we will limit ourselves to underlining how Laclau’s thesis has had a practical development not only in South America but also in Europe, with significant political repercussions on the plane of conflict and the formulation of real political dialectics. In fact, based on Laclau’s analysis, we could define the constitutive process that led to the convocation of the people of Podemos as a process developed in opposition to the ruling class of every political color and rank, originating in the crisis of representation in Spanish democracy at the start of the 21st century and the deprivation induced by the dominant system of production in a globalized economy (Torreblanca 2015). The combined effect of the political crisis and the restructuring of the capitalist economic system created a severe disorientation in a plurality of individuals who, notwithstanding their diversified material conditions, could find a collectively shared reasoning in their criticism of the governing elites. Indeed, the negative evaluations formulated against the policies accused of consistently favoring the interests of a minority rather than safeguarding the interests

Conceptual framework  29 of the majority of the people create space for an us versus them contraposition, which, on the left – as already noted – is redefined in terms of bottom versus top. It is by way of this re-elaboration of political conflict that a new political platform has come to be defined, different from all those of the past. What distinguishes this new platform is that people of different social extraction have found themselves united in struggle in a single demos: the recent college graduate looking for work; the young worker with a limited time contract; the fifty-year-old factory worker let go because of his company’s delocalization; the artisan and the small entrepreneur forced to close up shop due to their supervening incapacity to sell their products in the international marketplace; the shop owner displaced by foreign competition; the housewife who receives little or no monetary compensation for her work; the migrant who wants to make a new life for him/herself in a new country or on a new continent. The molding of a people on the part of movements and parties of the populist left is rooted in the desire to fuse together the battles conducted by a plurality of individuals and social categories within the confines of the same political project. Rather than remaining divided each from the others, these individuals and groups can identify with a people-demos, one and indivisible, able to interpret the individual destiny of each of its members. In this way, the term people comes to take on a new character, securing for itself a leading role in the post-ideological transformation of politics. In the chapters that follow, we will concentrate our attention on the Populist Radical Left Parties in Western Europe. At this point, however, looking ahead to our analysis of some of the internal dynamics of those organizations, we can state that the constitutive process that leads to the formation of a people based on a bottom/top contraposition has been explained very well by the leaders of Podemos and France insoumise. We will turn to an examination of these two political formations in the second part of the book. For the moment, we will limit ourselves to reporting some declarations by their principal spokespeople in relation to their idea of the people. Pablo Iglesias of Podemos is rather direct: I know perfectly well who my enemies are, and I know that the word enemy is taboo in the language of the politically correct. They say to me: as in friend and enemy? Yes, of course! Because the woman who can’t manage to pay her mortgage does not have the same interests as the bank that wants her money. It’s obvious that they are enemies. . . . To say this is not to make a call for aggression, or revolt. To say this is to tell it like it is, and people understand that perfectly. Those who do not tell it like it is . . . are the same ones who say that the problem is foreigners. When you don’t tell it like it is, when you play games with people, you don’t let them see who their enemies are. And that’s when a demagogue like Donald Trump arrives on the scene, saying that the answer is to build a wall, or that the problem is the Mexicans. That’s the same kind of thinking of people in Europe who say that the problem is people trying to escape from the poverty of Africa. Telling it like it is obviously pits the powerful against us.11

30  Conceptual framework With words like these, Iglesias constructs a political narrative on a line of demarcation that distinguishes the majority of the exploited from the elite of the rich and powerful. This process of political construction, conducted by the leadership of Podemos since its foundation, is an attempt to achieve empirically what Laclau has theorized by way of the “logic of equivalence”. In this view, the people are constituted by all of those “on the bottom” who are forced to suffer the hardships coming from “the top”, from the restricted group of the elite who enjoy great economic, political, social and cultural privileges. Speaking along the same lines as Iglesias, the leader of France insoumise, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, defines the people in analogous terms: the people is a term used to indicate a new concept with an old word, because today the world is new and profoundly changed. In One Hundred Years of Solitude, Garcia Marquez recalled the beginnings of colonization. When the Spanish arrived in Latin America, the things they witnessed were so new to their eyes that they didn’t even know what to call them and in order to refer to them they had no other way than to point their finger because they didn’t have the right words to describe them. . . . Today there is a new humanity, in a very short time we have grown beyond 7 billion people, and when the world’s population grows, it changes the condition of human life. That’s why today we find ourselves confronted with a new political entity: the people. Who is the people? The people is formed by people who live prevailingly in large cities and who need public services that provide education, healthcare, energy and food. Today the people is not composed only of those who are employed and who have homogenous class interests, but also of those who are retired, or are studying, or who can’t find work. The people is the new actor made up of several million people. . . . But unlike for Laclau, for us the us/them division is not just a cultural division, it is also a material and social division. And it is precisely because of this division that it is possible to form an us versus them. Among the people that are now coming together something new has happened, because all of these people have acquired a high level of individualization. And this is the real paradox: the more you experience a condition of individualization, the stronger the need to share your daily life with others. That’s how and why the new social networks are born. Thanks to these networks, people enter into contact with one another, and this is facilitated by the use of the mass media. This is the people today, unified through the networks of daily life and by means of the social network of communication.12 Despite some nuances or different shadings in the versions given by the Spanish and French leaders, for a significant part of the western European left the concept of the people is an absolutely new element with respect to the past. In the definitions provided by Iglesias and Mélenchon (and as we shall see further on this element is common to all the other left parties with populist origins) the people extends beyond the confines of the category of social class in the Marxian conception, giving rise ex-novo to a constitutional process replete with renewed political contents.

Conceptual framework  31

Notes   1 Worthy of note among the Marxist authors who focused on the concept of social class and class struggle are Lukács (1923), Gramsci (1929–1935) and Althusser (1965).   2 In this regard, in one of the most important passages of their Manifesto, Marx and Engels affirm: “the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes. . . . The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal society has not done away with class antagonisms. It has but established new classes, new conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of the old ones” (Marx and Engels 1848: 5).   3 For an initial approach to the study of inequality in the contemporary era see works authored by Stiglitz (2012) and Piketty (2013).   4 Obviously, along with this critique, there are many studies contesting the crisis of social classes, showing their persistence and continuing relevance. Among the main contributions are works by Evans (1999), Kunst et al. (1998), Layte and Whelan (2002), Breen (2004), Shavit et al. (2007).   5 The study by Lipset and Rokkan (1967) on social cleavages, conceived as a basis for the founding of political parties, received a lot of attention in international political science literature and was subsequently revisited and expanded in the work of, among others, Rokkan (1970), Flora (1999), Bartolini and Mair (1990).   6 In reference to the debate on cleavage politics, it is well known that for Lipset and Rokkan (1967) the processes tied to the national revolution and the industrial revolution are considered to be at the origin of four fractures, with reference to which the authors identify the birth of nationalist, regionalist, conservative, liberal, confessional and socialist parties in the modern and contemporary eras. The genesis of these parties is placed at the intersection of conflicts associated with: 1) the center/periphery fracture, referring to the conflict between primary centers of institutional power and identity demands advanced by the provinces and peripheries of the same political community; 2) the State/Church fracture, with the rise of the autonomy and dominance of the political power of the secular State over the privileges traditionally held by religious authorities and, in particular, by the Catholic Church; 3) the city/country fracture related to the conflict generated between the interests of large agrarian landowners, directed at the conservation of power relationships to their advantage, and those of the emerging industrial bourgeoisie, preoccupied with governing the ongoing process of urbanization; 4) the capital/labor fracture, with the conflict between capitalists, owners of the means of production, and the working class, comprised of renters, farmhands and factory workers.   7 For a more in-depth look at this topic, see Von Beyme (1982) and Gower and Ware (1996).   8 On the European level, the same process of Europeanization and European integration (and their relative critical consequences) is included in the more general phenomenon of globalization (Schmidt 2006).   9 This observation is proposed by Kriesi starting with his previous studies, which can be found in Lachat and Kriesi (2007), and Kriesi et al. (2006a, 2006b). 10 The term People comes from the Indo-European root par- o pal- that means “to bring together”. Also the ancient Greek absorbed this root that we can find also in the word πλῆθος (plethos) = crowd. Also. In the ancient German language, we find voll = full, and then volk = people. So, the etymology of “people” brings us back to the essential idea of a mass of people reunited under several aspects such as territory, language, laws, religion, tradition and habits. 11 Toledo, 18 November 2016. Speech by Pablo Iglesias at the inauguration of the University of Podemos in Castilla-La Mancha (source: www.youtube.com/ watch?v=88Vo40WFSgM). 12 Interview with Jean-Luc Mélenchon, conducted by the author on 15 February 2018.

2

Left-wing populism

What is it about? The profound changes that took place in Europe at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries, described in more detail in the preceding chapter, can be summed up in three passages: i) transformation of the capitalist system of production and waning of the Fordist model; ii) advent of the globalized economy within the framework of neoliberal thought; iii) rapid acceleration of the process of social individualization. Taken together, these passages lead to the definitive disruption of the class relationships typical of industrial society, the unfolding of a new power structure and the victory of liberal democratic regimes. In this context, there evolves a new equilibrium among the economic sphere, the social sphere and the political sphere. The formal start date of this historic phase can be assigned to the onset of Thatcherism,1 with the epilogue of the post-war consensus between Labour and Tories (founded on approval of the welfare state model), and this new international order would last for about thirty years. Evident signs of weakening start to become visible after 1989, when, paradoxically, the ex-ante institutional regime seemed to have established the conditions for its definitive victory (Fukuyama 1992). The first element of disruption of the pre-established order is related to a question of a political nature (political issue) brought about by the progressive deterioration of the mechanisms of democratic regulation (Kriesi et al. 2008). In this regard, Colin Crouch (2000) provides a particularly alarming analysis of the developing trend. His thesis, already explored in previous years (Sartori 1962; Crozier et al. 1975; Held 1987; Pharr and Putnam 2000), and subsequently taken up by a wide-ranging generation of sociologists and political scientists (Dahrendorf 1975; Dahl 1989; Rosanvallon 2006; Kriesi and Pappas 2015; Przeworski 2019), is that contemporary democratic regimes have been seriously compromised by the effects produced by their transformation. The evolution of those regimes (after a rising curve recorded above all in the years known as the Glorious Thirty) enter a declining phase which, in the early 2000s, shows few signs of coming to a halt. Nevertheless, Crouch submits, the condition of “post-democracy” cannot be defined as a simple return to a pre-democratic stage in that it is characterized by a strong decline which, in the face of broad political concessions to ruling elites interested in maintaining economic privileges rather than the pursuit erga omnes of collective

Left-wing populism  33 interests, does not compromise the respect for democratic rules and procedures. All this, in the face of unaltered mechanisms of constitutional engineering, nevertheless risks emptying out the contents of freedom and equality attributed to and recognized in the most advanced democratic regimes, thus favoring new forms of the oligarchical exercise of power. The second element of imbalance is determined by the economic issue rooted in the Great Recession (Kriesi and Pappas 2015). Indeed, starting in 2008, following the collapse of the North American subprime mortgage market and the failure of Lehman Brothers, the crisis reached the Old Continent, leading most sitting governments (right, center and left) to undertake spending commitments in favor and in defense of many financial institutions in order to prevent a collapse of the world banking system. The numerous bank bailouts, together with the recession, led to the financial markets losing confidence in the peripheral countries of the Euro zone, and more generally, in the single European currency. The generalized response of the principle European countries was the implementation of policies of austerity, which, in turn, led to a phase of depression of the international markets, bringing with it not inconsiderable consequences in the social sphere (with a return to conditions of poverty for many citizens, especially in southern Europe) and in the political sphere (with growing threats to the stability of many sitting governments) (Kriesi 2014; Morlino and Raniolo 2017). It is in this context that the European scenario experiences what can be called an outright epochal change, defined in the literature as a “populist turn” (Rosanvallon 2006) and renamed by Chantal Mouffe (2018) as the “populist moment”. Unlike contemporary developments in Eastern Europe and Latin America (related to the geopolitical characteristics of those parts of the world), the populist moment in Western European countries has common traits, which, the net of all the abovedescribed transformations, led to the weakening of the ruling classes, hurt by a loss of political and electoral consensus on the part of a large mass of citizens, the authors and carriers of multiple unsatisfied demands, interests and needs (Moffitt and Tormey 2014; Moffitt 2016). This leads to a structuring of the underlying reasons of a contraposition between the dissatisfied majority and a privileged ruling elite accused of being incapable of taking into consideration the needs of the population or of formulating efficacious responses to the most urgent questions to be resolved. This, then, is how a shared anti-establishment narrative begins to take shape, tracing an indelible border between the subordinate “people” and the dominant “oligarchy”. In this perspective, what is put at risk is the survival of the post-war social contract between the political classes of the European states and their resident populations. In the wake of these difficulties, the years of the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries witnessed a progressive distancing between representatives and the represented within the same political communities. All of this generates confusion, which, borrowing the words of Antonio Gramsci, could be defined as an outright “crisis of authority”. According to Gramsci: if the ruling class has lost its consensus, i.e. is no longer “leading” but only “dominant”, exercising coercive force alone, this means precisely that the

34  Left-wing populism great masses have become detached from their traditional ideologies, and no longer believe what they used to believe previously. (Gramsci 1929–1935, Q. 3, XX: 34)2 Although written in the first half of the 20th century, Gramsci’s reflection resonates clearly with the crisis of the neoliberal model and, with it, the threat to the sovereignty of the nation-state and its ruling class. The resulting risk is the accumulation of a diffuse discontent, the delegitimation of existing institutional channels and the development of a majoritarian sense of collective exclusion (Mény and Surel 2001; Kriesi et al. 2012). These threats generate a new political and electoral response (Rooduijn 2014). Leaving aside for the moment the merits of the long debate over the definition of populism, it is sufficient to underline how this historical moment, far from indicating a single way out, brings with it various possible options. In Europe, the populisms that have achieved the most success electorally are the so-called “right-wing” populisms (Betz 1994; Mudde 2004, 2007, 2014; Bornschier 2010). Right-wing populism is an expression used to describe political platforms aimed at blocking immigration (coming from the Islamic world, but not only), characterized by a high degree of nationalism and thus vehicles for nativist and protectionist demands and express opposition to the ongoing process of globalization. For these political forces, the search for an external enemy (immigrants, foreigners, Jews, gypsies or else the European Union or the power brokers of international finance and the economy that are undermining the authority of the nationstate by shifting decision-making from inside to outside national boundaries) is an instrument of political aggregation. The objective is to construct a “people” as homogenous as possible, constituted by citizens of the same skin color and the same civic culture, the same religion and the same language. These are new forms of political experimentation which, however – not being within the purview of this study – will not be treated in this volume. In addition to right-wing populism, however, it is also possible to identify within the populist turn another response to the crisis of the neoliberal system, constituted and interpreted by so-called new parties: a left-wing populism. Our analysis will be concentrated on this category of parties and social movements. So, what do we mean by left-wing populism? As a first step toward answering this question, we can affirm that this category (whose European origins are relatively recent) is distinguished from all the various declensions of the traditional left (March 2007). Rather than a sort of ideology, or a “thin ideology” (Mudde 2004), left populism, beginning with the studies of Ernesto Laclau (2005), is conceived as a discursive strategy, a rhetorical artifice, or more simply, as a mode of linguistic articulation capable of aggregating unsatisfied political demands coming from a fragmented society (Aslanidis 2016). It thus becomes a realistic possibility to construct hegemonic narrations contrary and contraposed to the neoliberal account, capable of recomposing a unitary political and social body. These are the terms in which, from the left, the dichotomy between “people” and “caste” is elaborated (García Augustín and Briziarelli 2018).

Left-wing populism  35 Having decided that recourse to the concept of class conflict is outdated and ineffective, the accent is placed on the condition of subalternity. Moreover, in the conditions described, all the social categories recalled in the first chapter are deemed subaltern. Subalternity is the condition of: self-employed and dependent workers; women and men hired with open-ended contracts, limited time contracts or any other form of flexible employment; employees in both the private and public sectors; artisans, underpaid women, immigrants and storeowners; those who are guaranteed a pension upon reaching retirement age and the younger segments of the population that don’t even dream of receiving a pension; LGBTQ individuals and knowledge workers; small business owners and professionals. Taken together, these categories are non-homogenous groups united by a shared sense of existential insecurity who express new social needs and the demand for a renewed model of laissez-faire with the aim of interrupting the decline of the middle class and the further impoverishment of working people to the benefit of a small privileged elite. According to Diamanti and Lazar (2018: 74), on the left, the people “is constituted . . . by an assemblage of all the weak against the powerful and the political and institutional establishment”. In these terms – the two authors continue – the people of the left-wing populists can be conceived contemporaneously as both plebs and populous: plebs in the sense of a set of exploited people, represented as united, just and good, virtuous and invincible; populous in that they are the rightful repository of political sovereignty and the proper executors of democratic power. Within this scenario, the left populist option proposes to overcome particularisms and fragmentations in the effort to unify the progressive demands that emerge from within it. The objective is to unify struggles and to create the conditions for reciprocal political recognition by diverse social categories so as to construct artificially a new “historical bloc” of the post-ideological age (Laclau and Mouffe 1985). Paraphrasing the title of the book by Carlo Formenti (2016), the left-wing “variant” of populism represents the post-modern counterpart of class struggle in neoliberal political regimes. According to this hypothesis, the transformation of the social conditions within which political organizations take shape, coupled with the disappearance of mass parties and the fragmentation and multiplication of popular interests, give rise to the concrete possibility of organizing conflict in a different way than in the past. In place of the binomial capital/labor, the them/ us cleavage emerges on the left, too, better declined according to the top/bottom formula (Ostiguy 2009, 2017). These are the terms that measure the distance between Marxist tradition and left-wing populism (March 2007). In this sense, the distinction can be identified in the distance that separates the “class left” from the “people left”. In the first case, the Marxist left is founded on the recognition of class and on the economic and cultural emancipation of workers and the international proletariat from the oppression and social alienation imposed by the capitalist organization of the economy. In the second case, instead, in the wake of all the transformations we have described, there begins to take shape a broader and more inclusive political platform capable of bringing together in a unified project a multiplicity of “popular demands”. This is the source of the embarrassment and hesitancy among traditional left parties

36  Left-wing populism with respect to the changes that have come about in the parties of the populist left. In this regard, in Italy in the 1960s, the exponents of the “workerist” (Tronti 1966) current enkindled a broad debate about what they viewed as the ambiguity in Gramsci’s thought with regard to his use of the term “people” in place of the concept of “class” (Asor Rosa 1965). Specifically, according to the Italian “workerists”, Gramsci had replaced the classist reading of society with a reading based on a more ambiguous and indeterminate category of people (Liguori 2019). Without going into the merits of this debate, having to with a specific phase of the Italian left, it is sufficient here to underline that, some years later, the postMarxist thought interpreted by Ernesto Laclau (2005) followed the tracks of this earlier reflection. According to Laclau, the “people” and not the “class” are the subject that produces change. From this point of view, the people are not the simple extension of the concept of class to other social categories but protagonists of an outright change of paradigm, capable of modifying the intrinsic characteristics of the post-ideological left and the forms of its political organization. The desire to move beyond the Marxian approach is rooted in the conviction that class conflict: is undermined from the start by a radical insufficiency, arising from the fact that class opposition is incapable of dividing the totality of the social body into two antagonistic camps, of reproducing itself automatically as a line of demarcation in the political sphere. (Laclau and Mouffe 1985: 151) To be sure, in the eyes of its supporters, left-wing populism takes on a positive connotation, different from the critical interpretations of a large part of the specialized literature, which describes it as a sign of the senility of democracy (Germani 1978; Canovan 1981; de la Torre 2000; Arditi 2005; Panizza 2005; Schmitter 2006; Urbinati 2014). The supporters of left populism, like Laclau (2005, believe that a specific declension of populism, open and inclusive, represents a possible way of reformulating political conflict, capable of preserving rather than weakening the forms of democracy in the years of its most acute systemic crisis. From this point of view, populism represents a return to the autonomy of the political over the economic and a help, rather than an obstacle, to maintaining the functional mechanisms of democracy. Left-wing populism is a political platform founded on the concept of “collective will” already expressed by Antonio Gramsci (1929–1935) in terms of a hegemonic struggle capable of crossing the boundaries of class. In the following pages, we will try to highlight some aspects useful to a more in-depth analysis of the characteristic dynamics of the developmental phases of left-wing populism. Specifically, we will analyze the i) necessary pre-conditions of the phenomenon; ii) the boundaries within which it develops; and iii) its established objectives. The “pre-conditions” that lead to the emergence of left-wing populism are rooted in a critique of the traditional left.3 Indeed, the development of a new idea of left begins to take shape in the formulation of the response to the crisis of the socialist and social-democratic parties. In the debate about populism, this critique

Left-wing populism  37 is well represented by the reflections advanced by Laclau and Mouffe (1985). The authors are very clear in this regard. According to them, in our contemporary complex society: a whole series of positive new phenomena underlie those mutations which have made so urgent the task of theoretical reconsideration: the rise of the new feminism, the protest movements of ethnic, national and sexual minorities, the anti-institutional ecology struggles waged by marginalized layers of the population, the antinuclear movement, the atypical forms of social struggle in countries on the capitalist periphery – all these imply an extension of social conflictuality to a wide range of areas, which creates the potential, but no more than the potential, for an advance towards more free, democratic and egalitarian societies. (Laclau and Mouffe 1985: 1) The idea is that, in the context of the described historical transformations, there come to be determined the conditions for the definition of a new historical phase, which (after the 1960s and 70s) the socialist and social democratic parties fail to interpret effectively. Viewed in this way, the disorientation of these political forces is owing to their inability to represent the motives for social conflict founded on extra-classist demands. According to Laclau and Mouffe, in renouncing the pursuit of a proposal for collective emancipation capable of holding together the various currents and reasons – materialist and post-materialist – for social conflict, the reformist left has failed to move beyond the “essentialist approach”, founded on single political identities based on the place occupied by individuals in the relationships of capitalist production. As they see it, traditional class conflict pitting workers against capitalists represents only one of the underlying reasons giving rise to the new European left. Instead, the post-ideological age is characterized by many other social struggles and battles which must necessarily find a possible convergence and unity in a renewed political platform. Following this line of argument, after the collapse of the Eastern European socialist regimes, the socialist and social democratic parties of Western Europe were struck by a deep systemic crisis (Arrighi 2010). They have come under fire for abandoning the idea of social transformation and political alternation. According to this critique, the European reformist left resigned itself to organizing its range of action on its adversaries’ terrain in the belief that it was possible to govern, from the left as well as the right, the process of capitalist reconstruction. In this way, the socialist and social democratic parties experienced a complete paradigm change which led them to lose sight of their natural role, bringing about a loss of recognition and consensus among their electorate. After the collapse of the Soviet empire, according to this view, the democratic forces of the reformist left initiated a process of mediation, which (hypothetically) should have brought together traditional aspirations for social transformation and winning economic models. Despite their intentions, some observers (Hall 1998) attributed to this very error of judgment the victory of neoliberal capitalism over the reformist idea

38  Left-wing populism of social transformation. Starting in the 1990s and for the entire next decade the reformist left (which in those years governed the principle European countries) was accused of considering inevitable the new developments of that time: globalization, increasing flexibility in the labor market and the domination of economics over politics. In so doing, the socialist and social democratic parties lost contact with their electorate and began to live with reality rather than maintain their commitment to transforming it. In 2002, during a dinner in Hampshire (UK), Conor Burns, then a Tory member of parliament, asked Margaret Thatcher what had been her greatest political success. The ex-British prime minister responded to this question with shrewd irony, saying that her greatest political success was undoubtedly “Tony Blair and New Labour. We forced our opponents to change their way of thinking”.4 For the critique of the traditional left, these two elements – its failure to unite in a single political platform the newly emerging social conflicts and the shifting of its reformist identity to a mere conservation of existing reality – brought about the conditions for profound political change and the organization of left populist parties in Western Europe. The “boundaries” within which the parties of the European populist left move are rather clear and well-defined. As highlighted by Mudde and Rovira Kaltwasser (2013), left-wing populism is an “inclusionary” form of populism, which distinguishes itself from all the forms of “exclusionary” populism, typical of right-wing populism. Based on the distinction formulated by Filc (2010), inclusionary populism is a particular kind of populism which presents three essential characteristics. The first feature concerns the material dimension and specifically the desire to redistribute, in economic and monetary terms, public resources to the advantage of specific social groups, which would thus be put into the condition to overcome forms of invidious discrimination. On the contrary, exclusionary populism is founded on the exclusion of such groups from access to those same financial and economic resources. The second feature of inclusionary populism concerns the political dimension. In this case, the nucleus of the argument is found in the reflections of Robert Dahl (1971, 1989) with regard to the quality of political participation and forms of public protest organized against established powers. Inclusion comes into play when a political regime aims to increase the level of participation and representation, welcoming within itself formerly excluded social groups. This process can involve social groups which, though holders of the political rights of citizenship, nonetheless risk marginalization at the will of the dominant establishment, as well as social groups whose full enjoyment of the rights to participation and protest have not yet been recognized. Instead, exclusionary populism prides itself on the deliberate exclusion of both groups from full participation and representation in the political system. The third feature of left-wing populism concerns its symbolic dimension. Particularly important in this regard is the way “the people” are defined in contraposition to “the elites”. Inclusion is present when the concept of the people makes explicit reference to the extensive quality of “us”, including in itself all social groups who undergo some form of discrimination and/ or political subalternity. A typical example of the extensive construal of “us” is the attention reserved for the descamisados (the shirtless) in the Argentina of Juan

Left-wing populism  39 Domingo Perón, or for the marea roja (red tide) in the Venezuela of Hugo Chavez. Instead, exclusionary populism presupposes a narrow definition of the people with a more homogenous declension of “us”, constituted by a population that shares the same cultural, linguistic and religious characteristics. In order to demonstrate the validity of this argument and the importance of the three dimensions attributed to inclusionary populism, Mudde and Rovira Kaltwasser (2013) propose an analysis that highlights the territorial aspect. They demonstrate that, at the start of the 21st century, when forms of exclusionary populism interpreted by right-wing parties were prevalent in Europe, numerous cases of inclusionary populism emerged in South America. To cite some examples, they point to the Venezuelan government of Hugo Chavez and then Nicolas Maduro, the Bolivian government of Evo Morales, the Uruguayan government of José Mujica, the Ecuadorian government of Rafael Correa, the Argentinian government of Nestor and Cristina Kirchner, and the Brazilian government of Lula. Using the same terminology, Benjamin McKean (2016) attempts to update this discussion by showing, however, how the category of inclusionary populism, rather than being restricted only to Latin America, can also be found in Europe. In this regard, the most important cases are those belonging to the area of the radical left, which we will treat in the following pages, and which we will analyze in more detail in the second half of the book. Starting from the onset of the economic, social and political transformation described up to now, the actions conducted by the principle interpreters of left-wing populism have been distinguished by the originality of their proposals. The “objectives” of the left-wing populist are aimed at the achievement of what is defined as “radical democracy”. This term recurs frequently in the works of philosophers and scholars of political theory. Specifically, after the definition provided by Habermas,5 the definition that adheres best to the reality of the political transformation now in progress is that of Laclau and Mouffe (1985). By the expression “radical democracy”, recalled many times throughout their works (see: Laclau 1990, 2005; Laclau and Mouffe 2004; Mouffe 1992; Errejón and Mouffe 2015), the two authors wish to indicate a process of “democratizing democracy” aimed at rendering advanced democratic regimes more democratic. Radical democracy is a form of democracy founded on the recognition of the plurality of existing conflicts in a given system of power. In that sense, class struggle loses its primacy in the field of political antagonism, having necessarily to find a point of convergence with the demands advanced by all of the existing social movements: students, young people, feminism, gender, environmentalist, ecologist, pacifist, ethnic and lots of others. In post-industrial societies, the identities of all the actors involved are subject to a process of social construction. Indeed, it is possible to be at the same time young, a woman, single, an immigrant, a worker, a pacifist, an ecologist, a lesbian and any number of other combinations, in a logic of multi-self-definition that prevents the prevarication of one’s identities over all the others. In this context, it will be the hegemonic process of constructing reality that is conceived within the “equivalential chain” (see previous chapter) that will make some demands prevail rather than others.

40  Left-wing populism According to this line of reasoning, radical democracy is definable as a system of power capable of recognizing the plurality of subjects involved in order to make them protagonists in the formalized political order. The functional mechanisms of radical democracy are conceived as the extension of the “democratic revolution”, with the aim of intensifying the “conflict” between the numerous social movements appearing in the contemporary era, which liberal democracy had helped to emerge in the 19th and 20th centuries. In this sense, radical democracy is a bulwark against the degenerative process that leads toward post-democracy. The objective is to extend the inspirational principles of liberal democracy to all spheres of social life so as to politicize society and, in so doing, to advance a hegemonic proposal that is an alternative to neoliberalism. The ultimate goal of radical democracy is to oppose all forms of inequality and bring about the conditions for greater inclusivity, both in the political sphere (with the recognition of the political rights of citizenship for the excluded segments of the population) and in the economic and social spheres (in terms of the extension and reinforcement of welfare services). While these are the goals, the relational dynamics of the various movements in play in a regime of radical democracy can give rise to a variety of possibilities. Left-wing populist actors are usually considered part of the group of radical left parties, but they nonetheless present differences (March 2017a, 2017b). Among these, two are particularly important. First, the parties and movements of the European populist left declare their discontinuity with the history of the 19th- and 20th-century left. Their intention is to work on the reorganization of a new political platform (or one that is renewed compared to the past), with the aim of focusing their attention on the vox populi (opinions of the majority) against the oligarchic exercise of power by the “caste”. From this perspective, the European populist left arises from the desire to aggregate the characteristic struggles of the many progressive social movements that have as their objective the political emancipation of ample segments of the population which have been socially marginalized. A further element of differentiation between the radical left and the populist left is the desire of the populist left to move beyond, at least in theory, the logic of the two lefts (divided into a reformist majority and a radical minority). In fact, this way of organizing European political systems has helped to keep the radical left in a perennial position of subordination with respect to the reformist left. Even in cases where the two groups have formed political alliances, the radical left parties have been forced into a minority role with respect to the reformists, often with negative results, in primis (first) for the fate of those same radical left parties.6 Based on these considerations, and learning from the example of governments in South America, the aim of the European populist left parties is to break out of the oppositional position in which they have been cornered, in order to propose an alternative and hegemonic political project and their candidacy for the leadership of the national government. It is by way of choosing this strategy that some Populist Radical Left Parties (PRLPs) have scored some important political successes. Compared to the parties of the European left, including those of the radical left, the parties and movements of the populist left are better able to dialogue with the anger and resentment that have been produced, in turn, by the generalized

Left-wing populism  41 worsening of economic conditions and the dysfunctional mechanisms of neoliberal democracies. In the chapters that follow, we will provide data and information regarding the history of these political forces and the results they have achieved over the years. What is certain is that within the category of the radical left, the parties of the Populist Radical Left are the ones that, in the early 2000s, have achieved greater success in both political and electoral terms. It is for this reason that the following section will focus on the Populist Radical Left Parties in Western Europe.

A definition of PRLPs Having provided a definition of left-wing populism, our objective is to present an ideal-typical model that can identify the PRLPs in Western Europe on an empirical level. In the following pages, our analysis will be directed at describing and interpreting the analogies and differences that characterize this category of parties as they have evolved during the three decades since the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989–2019). Our analysis will make use of the two explanatory variables mentioned in the previous section: the political variable or political issue and the economic variable or economic issue. These variables will help us understand the functioning of the Populist Radical Left Parties through a reading of the combined effects produced by transformations in the political and economic spheres. By the term political issue, we mean the process of reorganization of political arrangements within democratic regimes, in correspondence to which there has been an increasing loss of confidence and dissatisfaction on the part of the governed toward their governors. This has brought about a crisis in the functioning of the most advanced forms of liberal and representative democracy, giving rise to a phase defined as “post-democracy” (Crouch 2000). The term economic issue, on the other hand, concerns the outcomes produced by the economic and financial crisis of the Great Recession. For the middle and popular classes, the most crucial consequences have taken the form of a loss of buying power, a decrease in employment rates, the lowering of the minimum standards of welfare services and contraction in wealth redistribution (Kriesi and Pappas 2015). With regard to the operationalization of the political issue, we identify 1989 as the boundary year, when the institutional arrangement inaugurated by Thatcherism begins to manifest a paradoxical moment of difficulty in correspondence with its apparently definitive triumph. In continuity with these historical events, European left political parties also manifest a profound transformation. Indeed, after the events in Berlin, the west side of the wall saw a strong differentiation between old left and new left. The old left includes all the parties rooted in a Marxist tradition, with a long history behind them and a predefined and stable organizational model. Among the new left, instead, we recognize a generation of parties interested in reorganizing and governing political conflicts in the post-ideological age in the attempt to reinterpret the most favorable conditions for the construction of the European left in the 21st century. As for the economic issue, following the outcomes produced by the crisis, the operationalization process identifies 2008 as a

42  Left-wing populism breaking point, when the effects of the North American economic crisis reached the shores of the Old World. In 2008 and subsequent years, Europe is the scene of a sharp discontinuity that distinguishes the pre-crisis phase from the post-crisis phase. All of this determines a crescendo of economic inequality between a majority of people incapable of interpreting the ongoing changes and a minority of citizens better equipped to manage the complex transformations we have described. Taking into account these explanatory variables, Figure 2.1 proposes an interpretive model based on an ideal-typical quadripartition, highlighting different typologies of Populist Radical Left Parties in Western Europe. The first category indicated is that of the Post-Identitarian PRLPs. These are political organizations founded after 1989, in the years prior to the crisis of the Great Recession, heirs to the historical tradition of the classical left, which, although constituted on the legacy of Marxist thought, become the leading players in a process of transformation capable of modifying their own characteristics. This category includes parties that are the heirs of the past but that interpret the historical changes occurring after the events in Berlin, thus inaugurating a new political season. The second typology shown in Figure 2.1 are the Hyper-Identitarian PRLPs. These are radical left parties with a long or very long historical tradition, founded on the mass party model, whose process of gestation is rooted firmly in the furrows of Marxist tradition. In this case, we are dealing with political actors who, having appeared before 1989, propose to reconcile the values of social equality with the rhetoric and strategies typical of left-wing populism. This characteristic endows them (at least on the level of expectations) with the possibility of constructing a broader target electorate that extends beyond narrow Marxist affiliation. The third grouping shown in Figure 2.1 is that of the Neo-Identitarian PRLPs. These are radical left parties born after the economic crisis of the early 21st century and carriers of eminently anti-liberalist demands. Such political forces make their entrance onto the international political scene in correspondence with the decline of mass parties, and their aim is to use new categories to reinterpret the ongoing processes of transformation. In this case, we are dealing with outright New Left Post-Identitarian PRLPs

Neo-Identitarian PRLPs

Before Crisis

After Crisis Hyper-Identitarian PRLPs

Pro-Identitarian PRLPs

Old Left Figure 2.1  Populist Radical Left Parties in Western Europe Source: author’s elaboration.

Left-wing populism  43 new parties that are the expression of the new cleavages recalled in the previous chapter. With an eminently post-Marxist perspective, their objective is to compose a heterogeneous “people” formed of persons from various social strata and with distinct interests compared to those pursued by the homogenous and compact class of the proletariat. Last, the fourth typology represented in Figure 2.1 is that of the Pro-Identitarian PRLPs. These are political organizations born before 1989 and founded on the mass party model. Nevertheless, by virtue of the intervening difficulties on the national and international historical scene following the Great Recession, these political formations undergo processes of transformation that bring to maturation new characteristics with respect to the past. These are parties in search of a new identity in the contemporary political marketplace, markedly renewed compared to the past, so as to better interpret the democratic demands of a post-ideological age and the rapidly evolving ongoing transformations. (Laclau 2005). With regard to the identification of individual example parties, Figure 2.2 presents an interpretation of the ideal-typical model in accordance with the indications provided earlier. The classification allows us to discern the specific national cases. In fact, not being able to ascertain a single category of PRLPs, we now proceed with the recognition of various concrete examples observed in Western Europe in the three decades following the events in Berlin in 1989. Three criteria were used in selecting the case studies: 1) membership in the GUE/NGL and/or enrollment in the Party of the European Left (PEL); 2) capability of political activity throughout the whole nation-state and not only in some parts or regions of it; 3) continuity over time, such as to include candidates elected with the same name, or party name, for at least two consecutive terms in the national Parliament of one of the member states of the European Union and/or in the Strasburg Parliament between 1989 and 2019. Let’s proceed then with the identification of the individual parties. Among the Post-Identitarian PRLPs, we include the German PDS (Party of Democratic Socialism, later the protagonist of the founding of Die Linke) and Syriza in Greece. Both are inspired by the mass party model of the socialist and communist New Left Podemos – FI SYR

PDS-DL SYR Before Crisis

After Crisis SP – PTB SF Old Left

Figure 2.2  National Cases of PRLPs in Western Europe (1989–2019) Source: author’s elaboration based on Figure 2.1.

44  Left-wing populism tradition, organized and well rooted in their national territories. However, there is a distinction to be made in the case of Syriza in correspondence with the onset of the economic crisis of the early years of the 21st century. The Coalition of the Radical Left (as Syriza is known in English) has experienced three very different phases in its institutional life. The first is the phase prior to 2008, with rather modest electoral results, which left Syriza in a marginal position within the Greek political system. The start of the second phase of Syriza’s trajectory dates to the years immediately following the crisis of the Great Recession, when – after the implosion of the national political equilibrium, founded on the alternation between the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok) and the liberal-conservative party (New Democracy), both blamed for the national economic crisis – Syriza became a governing party. For this reason, despite its initially presenting the characteristics of Post-Identitarian PRLPs, Syriza changed its own features just a few years after its foundation, transforming itself for all intents and purposes into an outright Neo-Identitarian PRLP. Nevertheless, since its rise to government and in the following phase, Syriza returns to play a more traditional role, similar to the one played at the moment of its foundation. The category of Neo-Identitarian PRLPs involves all those parties with a declared populist vocation intent on constructing a new “people” different from the traditional working class “historical bloc”. This same category also includes Podemos and France insoumise, which have been able to make their renewed political platform the central source of their electoral strength. Continuing with our analysis of Figure 2.2, the category of the Hyper-Identitarian PRLPs contains parties intent on adapting their long Marxist tradition to populist strategies and rhetoric. Their goal (in some cases crowned with some successful outcomes, in others less so) is to enlarge their electoral base beyond its past limits. Belonging to this category are the Dutch Socialist Party (SP), the Workers’ Party of Belgium (PTB, in French: Parti du Travail de Belgique) and the Irish Sinn Fein (SF). Finally, in Figure 2.2 we should note an empty space corresponding to the parties assigned to the category of Pro-Identitarian PRLPs. Indeed, none of the formations of the radical European left politically active in the span of time under examination falls into this category. It might be possible to include the British Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn in this category of parties with a long historical tradition which undergo a sudden transformation after the onset of the international crisis. The Labour Party is a political formation of the old left, which in a limited historical phase, and in conflict with part of its leadership, tends to differentiate itself from its past by proposing a political program in opposition to the European Union policies of austerity and by identifying a “people” constructed in opposition to the power elites who impose recessive economic measures, hurting mostly the British popular and middle classes (Seymour 2016). Nevertheless, apart from short-term contingencies, being a party rooted solidly in the reformist tradition and thus representing the only important case of the European populist left not associated with the radical left, the Labour Party cannot be included within this analysis, and so (even within the limitations of the phase interpreted by Corbyn) it has been removed from the PRLPs.

Left-wing populism  45 Despite their common characteristics which qualify them as members of the same category, the Populist Radical Left Parties in Western Europe also present a high degree of heterogeneity, displaying histories, constitutive processes, political platforms, organizational models and identity references, each different from the others. For this reason, the second part of this volume will devote ample space to the analysis of all the parties included in Figure 2.2. With regard to etymology, the term “identitarian” used to define all the typologies of PRLPs has been borrowed from the reflections of Pierre-André Taguieff (2002). In the study of Populist Radical Left Parties, however, this term is used in its broadest meaning, aimed at the definition of a new identity with respect to the past, capable of interacting with the loss of values typical of post-ideological society. Specifically, after the historical phase marked by the crisis of traditional ideologies, the 21st century opens with the desire to recover the myth of political identity, holding it up in opposition to the process of globalization that characterizes the market economy and the lifestyles of the resident populations of democratic and capitalist states (Crouch 2018). In a left perspective, the appeal to the identitarian dimension is rooted in the desire to construct a critical thought that is different from the ideologies of the past (more “liquid” to use Bauman’s word), conceived as a response to the dominant capitalist system with the aim of recovering a shared sense of belonging. This process of identitarian re-appropriation can be described as a reaction to the neoliberalist model and its proposed removal of all cultural barriers to the free flow of international markets and to the accumulation of capital in the hands of a small elite (Fukuyama 2018). All of this helps to construct broad fronts of political resistance against dominant elites, which on the left contrapose the “higher ups” (the legal State) to the “lower downs” (the real State). Borrowing the slogan of the Occupy Wall Street Movement (a peaceful protest movement born in September 2011 to denounce the abuses of finance capitalism),7 the political content of the “identitarian” parties of the Populist Radical Left in Western Europe can be formulated as “we are the 99%”.8 Indeed, in the course of the demonstrations organized in those years, a sharp contrast was theorized between the “people”, comprised of common citizens who encounter increasing difficulty in the organization of their own personal lives, and the caste of citizens (represented in the demonstrators’ language as the remaining 1% of the world’s population), which in this view includes the narrow oligarchy of the rich and privileged, including the leaders of the ruling class of every political color and institutional level, who in recent decades are said to have achieved for themselves conditions of unjustifiable privilege. This contraposition gives rise to the antielitist proposal aimed at constructing an anti-neoliberal identitary model based on the recuperation of neo-Keynesian policies, conceived to benefit the majority of persons who help to produce the wealth in a given political community and against the minority of those who are unjustly enriched by the system of international globalization. Beyond what has been said so far, the PRLPs in Western Europe can be analyzed according to an additional evaluation criterion, which responds exclusively to territorial dynamics. In fact, it can be evinced from Figure 2.2 that the Populist

46  Left-wing populism Radical Left Parties active in northern Europe come from a long political history, having been founded before the outbreak of the Great Recession. On the contrary, the Populist Radical Left Parties of southern Europe make their appearance on the international political scene after the economic crisis of the early 2000s (the only possible exception being Syriza, which we will examine in more detail in the second part of the book). This is an element of considerable interest. To try to interpret this phenomenon, we will take into consideration the two explanatory variables recalled in the preceding pages, or rather the political variable (political issue) and the economic variable (economic issue). Both variables are essential to the determination of the different declensions of radical left populism. What changes is the way they combine in each case. Specifically, in those northern European countries less affected by the economic crisis, political parties with a long tradition, but in serious electoral decline, decide to privilege a new strategy for the organization of consensus, incorporating a political rhetoric of evident populist origins focused on the denunciation of the distortions within the democratic regimes and on the “crisis of authority” of the ruling class. From this point of view, the traditional demands for more equality and wealth redistribution among all the members composing the political community in question are expressed through the formulation of a deep resentment of the governing elites, accused of being incapable of resolving the most important problems faced by the majority of the resident population. All of this helps to renew the image and the political representation of some old parties of the European left. This is the case of the Dutch Socialist Party, the Workers’ Party of Belgium and the Irish Sinn Fein, which (despite their differences) while maintaining a Marxist reading of society, succeed in activating an electoral dynamic to their advantage by way of a communicative rhetoric that allows them to reorganize political conflict according to the contraposition people/elites and not just workers versus capitalists. These parties are joined, in northern Europe, by the Party of Democratic Socialism in Germany, of more recent origin than the others, founded in 1989 on the political legacy of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED), the single party of the communist regime of the former East Germany. In the countries of southern Europe, on the other hand, the energy that gives rise to the PRLPs is sparked primarily by responses to previously unanswered demands (democratic demands in the jargon of Laclau), formulated in the economic sphere and aiming to re-establish a better balance between social classes impoverished by processes of capitalist reconstruction and social classes enriched by those very mechanisms of international governance. In this case, the input comes above all from the difficult material and existential conditions experienced by the majority of the population. Starting from demands for more social justice, these parties manage to activate an anti-establishment political dynamic with which they have achieved important electoral results. All of this leads to the foundation ex-novo of highly original political organizations aimed at reorganizing social conflict on the opposition between the people and the elites so as to structure in a different way than in the past the process of social inclusion for ample segments of the population excluded from enjoyment of socially produced wealth. The clearest examples of this type of party are Syriza in Greece, at the time of the Great Recession, and

Left-wing populism  47 Podemos in Spain. These are political forces arising from demands for collective emancipation interpreted by mass movements like those of Syntagma Square and the indignados, in both cases appearing on the international political scene in the early 2000s. In these countries, an analysis of the difficult economic situation gives rise to a critique of the caste, accused of being incapable of governing the ongoing processes of transformation. These two examples are joined some years later by the case of France insoumise, which presents characteristics similar to those displayed by its Greek and Spanish counterparts. The critical analysis proposed in this volume, therefore, attributes the rise of the PRLPs in Western Europe to the combined interaction of economic reasons and political reasons. For all the Populist Radical Left Parties, old or new generation, the objective is to replace the governing class of the principle European countries in order to represent in a different way the interests of a reconstituted “historical bloc” composed of a heterogeneous population of people impoverished by the crisis. Based on what we have seen so far, the main difference between the PRLPs of the north and the PRLPs of the south of Europe is defined by their electoral success, with the parties of southern Europe capable of achieving much more positive outcomes than those achieved by their homologous parties in northern Europe. As if to say that the constitution of political formations ex-novo as a direct reaction to the effects tied to the crisis of the opening years of the 21st century has proved to be more effective than the reorganization of existing parties, notwithstanding the injection into their own genetic heritage of neo-populist content and demands. The selection process for the case studies presented in this volume was based on the content analysis method.9 As mentioned in the introductory section, this method has been applied to the charters, political documents, parliamentary speeches and campaign platforms of all the parties of the European radical left belonging to the GUE/NGL and/or members of the Party of the European Left from 1989 to 2019. The items taken under examination are three. First of all is, values. The category of PRLPs is reserved only to those political formations that demonstrate their representation of contemporary political conflict by overcoming the logic of class conflict, focusing their interest on the contraposition top/bottom articulated by way of the image of a “pure” people in opposition to “corrupt” elites. Second is political rhetoric. To be considered a party of the populist radical left, a party must demonstrate its use of rhetoric that tends to be interclassist so as to move beyond the usual dialogue with the working class, and in this way to try to reach as vast an audience as possible through a simplified message which carries with it a sense of anger and popular resentment against the dominant oligarchy of power. Last is leadership characteristics. A leader of a populist force is a leader who personifies the anti-elitist sentiment of the people, capable of presenting him/ herself as “one of us” against the caste of professional politicians (right or left), by using a language that is free of ideological hurdles and barriers. Part of the material used in this study was gathered, on site, in the national headquarters of the parties, while the rest was acquired through channels made available by institutional media. Through this method of investigation, it was possible to arrive at the identification of all the political forces included in Figure 2.2.

48  Left-wing populism Upon completion of the investigation, it was decided to exclude political formations which, although allied with some PRLPs, with which they make electoral agreements or share common political experiences, do not present the minimum characteristics necessary to be placed in the category of the populist radical left. The exemplary cases are Izquierda unida (IU) in Spain, and the Bloco de Esquerda (BE) in Portugal. These are parties (or better, federations of parties) of the radical left which can count on the convergence of political formations of various extraction and progressive cultures (Ramiro Fernández 2004; Lisi 2016). The principle characteristic of such parties (in terms of values, political rhetoric, and leadership) do not allow them to be included in the category of the populist radical left, indicating instead the placement of both parties in the field of the radical left period. This is why, particularly with regard to the BE, despite the “Lisbon Declaration of a Citizen’s Revolution in Europe”, signed on 12 April 2018 by Catarina Martins, leader of the “Bloco”, together with Jean-Luc Mélenchon of France insoumise and Pablo Iglesias of Podemos, it was decided to exclude these parties from the confines outlined in this book.10 The following chapter will deal with questions tied to the identitary approach of the PRLPs, reflecting on the values and the modalities that guide their political action, on the homogeneity and differences that distinguish the various national cases, and on the innovations achieved with respect to the past. Specifically, the chapter will include a detailed analysis of the sovereigntist variable claimed by some PRLPs or by some of their internal divisions. In this regard, we will try to understand how sovereigntism can coexist with the universe of values attributed to Populist Radical Left Parties and how this possibility might contribute to the reformulation of their identitarian space.

Notes   1 By Thatcherism we mean the counter-hegemonic design conceived by Margaret Thatcher (the former British prime minister) at the end of the 1970s and pursued throughout the decade of the 1980s, by way of a series of economic and social strategies. The nucleus of Thatcherism can be defined as the beginning of economic deregulation, the reduction of the tax burden and stripping the state of its role as a market regulator. All of this meant a drastic reduction of welfare services. Thatcher’s policies coincided with the economic policy choices in the same period of the Reagan administration in the United States, years remembered for the reaffirmation of neoliberal doctrine at the expense of Keynesian and neo-Keynesian approaches.   2 A. Gramsci. 1971. Selections from the Prison Notebooks. Lawrence & Wishart, London: 275–276.   3 The critique of the European socialist left is based on a very wide-ranging reflection. For an initial approach to this theme, see the interpretation of Lemke and Marks (1991), Chavance (1994), and Losurdo (2014).   4 Source: Conor Burns. 2008, April 11. “Margaret Thatcher’s greatest achievement: New Labor.” Available at: https://conservativehome.blogs.com/centreright/2008/04/makinghistory.html.   5 Habermas (1981a, 1981b) considers “radical democracy” an ideal system of legitimation of political power based on the free process of forming public opinion according to the principles of communicative action.

Left-wing populism  49   6 There have been two important examples of progressive coalition governments. The first was the French coalition government of the gauche plurielle (plural left), led by Lionel Jospin (1997/2002), a socialist-led government with the participation, albeit in extremely disadvantageous conditions, of the French Communist Party (Lazar 1992, 2005; Courtois and Lazar 1995). The second example of a collation government of reformist and radical left parties is the Italian case, a broad alliance which included, among others, the Democratic Party of the Left, later Democrats of the Left, and the Communist Refoundation Party (the left coalition governments were actually two, both led by Romano Prodi, the first from 1996 to 1998, and the second from 2006 to 2008) (Damiani 2016).   7 Participants of the Occupy Wall Street Movement demonstrate against the economic and social inequalities that have developed since the world economic crisis (Della Porta and Mattoni 2014). The name of the movement adopts Wall Street as its symbolic objective, as the seat of the New York stock exchange and epicenter of international finance. Similar demonstrations were held in seventy other American cities and subsequently also in Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Italy.   8 This slogan was immediately taken up by, among others, Paull Krugman in a 2011 article published in the The New York Times. Source: www.nytimes.com/2011/11/25/ opinion/we-are-the-99-9.html.   9 For an initial approach to content analysis please see Krippendorff (1980) and Neuendorf (2017). 10 The “Lisbon Declaration for a Citizen’s Revolution in Europe” is a letter of intent that expresses the desire to construct a transnational political platform, highlighting the divergence of views with the more institutional part of the Party of the European Left, led by Syriza and Die Linke, and the more radical part of those, led by France insoumise, who are harshly critical of the European Union’s choice of “austerity”, launching a strong appeal for a turnabout in the economic policies of EU member states.

3

New identitarian approach

The social imaginary A fundamental characteristic of PRLPs is their discontinuity (in some cases quite evident, in others more contained) with respect to the traditional parties of the European left. By virtue of the social and political fragmentation that came about in the 20th and 21st centuries, the populist radical left, far from distinguishing itself for its explicit criteria of ideological homogeneity, is characterized by a broad pluralism of ideas. While, for the social-communist parties of the 19th century, ideology constituted a non-negotiable unifying content, for radical populist left parties, the plural articulation of their shared identity and values is an important element of innovation (Damiani 2019a). As has also been demonstrated in relation to the radical left (Damiani 2019b), the heterogeneity of ideas characteristic of Western European PRLPs can be attributed to the reversal of the existing relationship between politics and society. Whereas, after the rise and consolidation of socialist and communist parties, ideology could erupt from above and flow downward into everyday life to become a guiding force for social action; more recently the relationship between politics and society has been turned on its head, with the production of values and ideas ascribable mainly to the social sphere. It is in this context that we wish to recall the concept of the “social imaginary” (Castoriadis 1975; Wunenburger 1998; Taylor 2004), to then apply it to the PRLPs. Essentially, the social imaginary can be defined as a specific form of collective thinking, distinct from all the other forms (myths, common sense, religion, ideology and utopia). From a theoretical perspective, it can be described as a collection of images, often implicit and not formalized, with which individuals interpret themselves, defining their own needs. In the political sphere, the expression “social imaginary” indicates a large depository of symbolic ideas that is built up with the contributions of numerous social groups and movements, each of which becomes the carrier of a particular content, even if often provided in circumscribed form and, at times, involuntarily (Santambrogio 2015). We will use these representations to describe the characteristic value set of European Populist Radical Left Parties. In an epoch of crisis for traditional ideologies and the exhaustion of their propulsive force, the social imaginary of the PRLPS tends to replace the ideological system of the past with a larger and less unitary

New identitarian approach  51 container of various identitary archetypes that blend, interweave and overlap in different ways depending on the party. Whereas in the past, ideology was called upon to demonstrate a logical connection capable of proposing a coherent reading of the world (Mannheim 1929), with the social imaginary this role is attenuated. The imaginary draws directly on daily life experience and, through it, constructs a way of thinking that is not necessarily structured. Within a given political community, the values, principles, ideas and symbols that constitute a specific social imaginary (potentially contraposed to other social imaginaries) can be represented and promoted by a single collective subject, which in this case can be identified as the founding “people” of the Laclauian left populist parties, interpreted as a new “historical bloc” of the post-ideological age (Damiani 2019a, 2019b). All of this is coherent and in perfect continuity with the principle of “radical democracy,” described in the preceding chapter, aimed at setting in motion a process of “democratizing democracy.” If by radical democracy we mean a form of democracy founded on the recognition of the plurality of the conflicts existing in a given system of power, the European Populist Radical Left Parties are conceived in order to organize within themselves a plurality of diverse political subjects, interests and needs. In the pages that follow, we will try to describe and interpret the structure of the PRLPs’ social imaginary. Far from considering it as a totally fluid and unstructured space containing disconnected heterogeneous values, we intend to represent it as a sort of organizational form for ideas that is created through the interaction of specific values, capable of accounting for the dynamic nature of the space. In order to explain the functional model of the PRLPs’ social imaginary and the modalities of distribution and reciprocal relations of the values contained in it, we will adopt an approach inspired by the concept of “radical categories” introduced by George Lakoff (1987). Lakoff defines a radical category as a complex of strictly related concepts in reference to a concept that is more central than the others. He distinguishes between the “primary category” (or central subcategory) and “secondary categories” (or non-central categories). In our case, our hypothesis is that the central subcategory of PRLPs is different from that of the traditional radical left and from all the rest of the European left parties that arose at the turn of the 20th century. For the social-communist parties of the 19th century, and for more recent radical left parties, the primary category referred explicitly to the principle of equality – aspiring ideally to pursue substantial parity of material conditions for all the components of a given political community. The European PRLPs have a different approach. For them, the primary category, rather the principle of substantial equality, becomes the principle of social inclusion, conceived in a more extensive form, with the aim of mobilizing diverse ideas and principles, typical of the different social categories composing the party’s renewed historical bloc. Drawing a line in the sand with respect to the past, the PRLPs stop at pursuing or making explicit reference to a society of “equals,” liberated from profit and the class struggle, and decide to recompose social conflict within the confines of liberal and social democracy, recuperating demands coming from various and composite parts of society. By

52  New identitarian approach dedicating themselves to social inclusion, European parties of the Populist Radical Left are able to address themselves to all the components of a given political community and not just to the working class or the international proletariat. From this perspective, although social inclusion and substantial equality do share some common areas of meaning, they do not overlap perfectly. According to Jürgen Habermas (1996, 2008), inclusion does not mean assimilatory hoarding nor closure against the different. Inclusion of the other means rather that the borders of the community are open to all; even, and above all, to those who are reciprocally strangers and do not want to remain strangers. Placing the principle of inclusion at the center of one’s own identitary construction does not mean, however, renouncing a role as the agent of political transformation. On the contrary, for PRLPs, adopting the principle of social inclusion as the “primary category” of their social imaginary means aiming for the construction of a radical democracy which tries to include within its institutional system the various expressions of the plural articulation of a given society. Far from scaring off the middle classes in the name of an egalitarianism incapable of opening its outlook to a plurality of situations, needs, demands and concrete needs, the principle of social inclusion is able to aggregate demands and people of various social backgrounds based on the request for the reinforcement of a broader society of well-being. Such a transformative impulse, rather than prefiguring a structural change of the dominant political system, aims to create the conditions suitable to the pursuit of values tied, for example, to social justice (and not only) within the confines and in respect of the rules of the existing democratic system. Similarly, the option of inclusionary populism discussed in the previous chapter refers above all to the capacity to bring together different social categories behind a single political platform. Obviously, inclusion is not the only element composing the social imaginary of the populist radical left. If we wish to continue using the vocabulary proposed by Lakoff (1987), the “secondary categories” of the populist radical left’s social imaginary take the form of other shared values. Based on our content analysis1 of the charters, by-laws and campaign platforms of all of the populist parties indicated in the previous chapter over the thirty-year period 1989–2019, we can affirm that some of the foundational values of the PRLPs are typical of the European progressive tradition, others are new with respect to the past, and still others are profoundly different from those of the historical progressive tradition. In synthesis, the values resulting from our analysis are the following: social justice, understood as greater redistribution of the wealth produced in a given political community; 2) democratization of governmental processes, conceived as broader grassroots participation; 3) extension of the political, social and civil rights of citizenship to excluded, or weaker, sectors of the population; 4) pacifism, concerned with recovering the contents of non-violence as an instrument of political transformation; 5) feminism, understood as attention to gender parity and the creation of conditions of complementarity between people with different sexual orientations; 6) environmentalism and ecologism, capable of conceiving defense of the environment as a pre-condition for the safeguarding of the global ecosystem and the defense and conservation of energy resources. All of these values are typical of the political

New identitarian approach  53 forces of the post-ideological European left. To these must be added another value, more problematic and more difficult to integrate with the others: sovereigntism, understood as the recovery of the local dimension of political action, opposed to all attempts at (partial or total) expropriation of the political sovereignty of the nation-state affected by supranational or extra-national political actors. In the view of sovereigntists, the exercise of power on the part of the people can be exercised democratically only within the confines of national borders. Since it is a very complicated matter not without its own contradictions, we will postpone our treatment of it until the third section of this chapter. For now, we will highlight how all of these values, taken together with the principle of political inclusion, help to identify and circumscribe the field of ideas that forms the social imaginary of the radical populist left. The decisive issue is that these values (corresponding to non-central subcategories) are not in themselves distinguishing elements only of the radical populist left, since they are shared, to a greater or lesser extent, by other political cultures. These values, however, become the patrimony of radical populist left parties to the extent to which they are oriented toward the pursuit of social inclusion for all members of the same political community within the existing democratic system. Let’s take as an example the issue of respect for and expansion of the civil rights of citizenship. The attention directed, for example, to the rights of homosexual couples is typical of the campaign platforms and political objectives of European PRLPs (in reality this is true of some more than others). It is not possible, however, to attribute this value only to the left, and even less so only to the radical populist left. It is an across-the-board value, having to do with the creation of conditions that presuppose respect for and the full realization of the human person. The transversal nature of this value is illustrated by the approval of the institution of gay marriage in Great Britain in 2013 under the conservative government of David Cameron. Other values, such as pacifism, feminism, environmentalism have come in for the same kind of across-the-board attention. They are not values exclusive to the left, much less the radical populist left, but belong to various political families. The peculiarity of the radical populist left parties is their representation of this value set as an original blend, which takes on a political significance when the mix of values is put to work in the pursuit of greater social inclusion. The same can be said of sovereigntism, which connotes the various declinations of the PRLPs and has been pursued since the start of the 21st century in contrast with some of the classic principles of traditional Marxism and the political culture of the European left. In Italy, for example, the left-left of the national political spectrum has seen the founding in 2019 of a rather original association called Patria e Costituzione (Homeland and Constitution). The first paragraph of Article 4 of its “Manifesto for the Constitutional Sovereignty” states that: the unsustainability of globalization, certified by the return of protectionism and inter-imperialist competition, is the proof that the presumed end of the Nation-State exists only in neoliberalist propaganda and in the blabbering of a left that has replaced socialist internationalism – which is solidarity between

54  New identitarian approach national popular classes – with capitalist cosmopolitanism. In this context, in order to defend themselves from liberalist policies, popular interests demand protection and security from their respective Nation-States, conscious that they alone can offer them the chance to recover a minimum of influence over their own destiny. The Nation-State is once again indispensable to promoting full occupation, restricting and regulating the market, and ensuring the social function of private property.2 The national dimension, while belonging to the classic patrimony of the right, can also become a distinguishing feature of a certain kind of left party. What differentiates right sovereigntist parties from left sovereigntist parties is that, for the latter, each characteristic value must be placed, or should be conceived, exclusively at the service of increasing social inclusion (as opposed to the superiority of one nation’s institutions over all the others). This can be achieved by transforming existing power relationships and giving all individuals the chance to imagine a progressive process of collective emancipation. Having defined the values of the radical populist left parties, we can now examine their functional relationships. Although the value of social inclusion is the central value of all such parties, not all radical populist left parties have the same scale of priorities with regard to their secondary values (non-central subcategories); thus, the asymmetry among parties belonging to the same political category. Indeed, some parties may identify, for example, the expansion of the civil rights of citizenship as the fundamental value underlying their actions in the service of political transformation. Others may find greater unity around the value of feminism, or pacifism or any other value defined by their non-central subcategories. It is by way of these different modalities of autonomous choice that, on the basis of changing internal and external power relationships, the PRLPs redefine, from time to time, their pantheon of values. Unlike the social-communist parties, characterized by a strong ideological stability, the radical populist left is constituted by a social imaginary that is constantly moving and permanently in transformation.

Pluralism and the interaction of values According to the scheme described in the preceding section, the functional mechanism of the social imaginary and the importance of the central value in relation to secondary values can be explained by reference to the reflections of Alex Honneth (2011). According to Honneth, it is freedom that plays the central role with respect to other non-central values. This means that, in the modern era, each value can be expressed and defined only in consideration of its relationship with the central value of freedom. Honneth’s thesis is useful in examining the role and function performed (according to the language of Lakoff) by the central subcategory in the social imaginary of the European parties of the radical populist left. Applying this reasoning to the object of our study, we can affirm that the central value of the PRLPs does not presuppose its hierarchical and static preeminence with respect to all the other secondary values. On the contrary, the recognized centrality of social

New identitarian approach  55 inclusion means that the secondary values can be expressed by way of mediation with it. In this perspective, it is as though the central value were attributed a filter function with respect to the content of the non-central subcategories. The social imaginary is articulated, therefore, in accordance with a dynamic and interactive relationship. The central value is a filtering value that performs a sort of metabolic function with respect to the expression and definition of the content of the secondary values. It is in this sense that it has a very important role for the other values that define the social imaginary of the PRLPs.3 Furthermore, the central value’s filter function with respect to the secondary values does not preclude the secondary values from contributing, in turn, to the redefinition of the central value. We must imagine a mechanism that functions in two directions. The first is a top-down action in which the subcentral values can only be articulated in reference to the central value. The second is a bottom-up action, in which the subcentral values can contribute to the redefinition and rearticulation of the central value. The central value’s metabolic filtering, or sifting, function does not necessarily leave the central value intact. The relationship between central value and secondary values must not be conceived by way of the classical scheme of the relationship between means and ends. The reflections of Hans Joas (1992a, 1992b) are helpful in this regard. Inspired by the theory of John Dewey (1939), Joas affirms that means and ends must not be conceived as elementary and ontologically “discrete” categories. On the contrary, the relationship between means and ends must be conceived in terms of mutual interdependence and reciprocal co-definition. This means that political and social action are never constituted by fully defined ends that are pursued by way of more or less effective neutral means. Rather, the choice of means redefines the nature of the pursued end. In turn, the contents of the ends pursued are redefined according to the means through which they are achieved.4 As previously intuited by Collier and Mahon (1993), the identity of the central value is mostly relational, and only in part holistic. Such relationality is dynamic in nature. In filtering the secondary values, the central value is subjected to a process of continuous redefinition. Obviously, not all secondary values entertain a relationship of equal reciprocity with the central value. Rather, reciprocity is a possible instrument for localizing the position of the secondary values. On the other hand, the more intense the reciprocal influence between the central category and any given secondary category, the more central will be the position occupied by the secondary category. An analogous conception also applies to the analysis of the social imaginary of the PRLPs. In this case, too, the relationship between the central and secondary values helps to redefine the content of the central value and vice-versa. If we move from the theoretical to the empirical level, the examples are quite numerous. Based on our ad hoc content analysis, one example involves the leaders of the German party of the radical populist left (Die Linke) and the leaders of the Spanish party (Podemos). What emerges in these cases is that – regardless of their differences and the autonomy of their respective political histories – both parties share the central value of social inclusion and, in both cases, feminism plays a subcentral role in their social imaginaries. At the same time, however,

56  New identitarian approach the relationships within the two parties between social inclusion and feminism are very different. In Podemos, the reciprocal relationship is very close, such that a high degree of social inclusion becomes unthinkable without the contribution provided by feminism. This means that the value of feminism is articulated and defined in relation to conditions of increasing social inclusion, just as, in the same way, feminist battles stimulate an overall redefinition of the meaning attributed to the principle of social inclusion. Given the results of the content analysis, in the social imaginary of Podemos, the two values (the central and the secondary) are closely tied. In Die Linke things stand differently. Content analysis shows that the relationship of the two values is less reciprocal, with the sphere of the economic structure prevailing over the sphere of the cultural superstructure, and that the secondary value (in this case, feminism) is substantially dependent on the first (that is, on the material conditions that define relationships between genders). Consequently, the category of feminism occupies a different position in the social imaginaries of the two parties: a more marginal position in the case of Die Linke and a more central position in the case of Podemos. The degree of closeness to the central value in the social imaginary is not established a priori but, on the contrary, it is the effect of dynamic relationships of reciprocal redefinition between the central value and the secondary value. The element of reciprocity allows for a different reading of the difference between ideology and social imaginary. Because of the rigidity attributed, for example, to the social-communist ideology of traditional Marxist orthodoxy, the relationship between central value and peripheral values is hierarchical and onedirectional. Peripheral values can be articulated only with reference to the central value, and the central value remains immune to contributions coming from the secondary values. Translated into spatial terms, the peripheral values remain very distant from the center of the ideological system. This rigidity is due to the conception of the value system as a superstructural expression of structural dynamics that are economic and social. By comparison, the social imaginary appears as a space of dynamic encounters and reciprocal interactions between primary values and secondary values. The reciprocity of the relations between values in the same social imaginary, however, raises a further problem of logic, arising from the vagueness and indeterminacy of the central value. The fundamental problem is the underspecified nature of what Lakoff (1987) defines as the central subcategory. According to Ostiguy (2010), the central subcategory does not stem from a set of defined and determined properties shared by all subjects to which the respective category is applied. On the contrary, the central subcategory is “unspecified” and “vague”. Therefore, the non-central subcategories perform a fundamental role in helping to define the initially vague content of the central subcategory. This reasoning is also present in Ernesto Laclau’s studies of populism (2005). According to Laclau, the vagueness of political rhetoric is not necessarily negative. Vague rhetoric is typical of populist proposals and reflects a distinctive trait of society. Indeed, the Argentine scholar asks himself “is not the ‘vagueness’ of populist discourses the

New identitarian approach  57 consequence of social reality itself being, in some situations, vague and undetermined?” (Laclau 2005: 18). Rather than a weak point, vagueness is the fulcrum of populist discourse, what Laclau defines as an “empty signifier”. From this perspective, because post-ideological society is heterogeneous and fragmented, splintered into a multiplicity of unsatisfied social demands, only a vague and fluctuating discourse can reunify the irreducible heterogeneity of the demands themselves. From this point of view, the vagueness of the values represents and expresses the possibility of bringing together in a single political discourse heterogeneous demands that otherwise would not find expression and satisfaction in a given institutional and social system. Although Laclau was not interested in reflecting on the articulation of the value sphere nor on the concept of the social imaginary, his intuition regarding the inherent vagueness of populist discourse can be reformulated and applied to the study of the functional model of the social imaginary of the PRLPs. Specifically, unlike the situation of traditional 19th-century ideologies, the central value of the Populist Radical Left Parties takes on a connotation of hypothetical and deliberate vagueness because only by operating in this way is it possible to perform the metabolical filtering function between the central value and non-central values. If the central value were to be excessively determined, its rigidity would make the filtering function impossible, thus precluding the production of any relationship between or any reciprocal, dynamic and continuous redefinition of central and secondary values. Not coincidentally, in parties tied to Marxist orthodoxy, the central value (in that case, equality) is formulated in more rigid terms and therefore performs a filtering function that is exclusively top-down. Conversely, a party such as Podemos introduces some non-central subcategories (feminism, environmentalism, ecologism, civil rights and so on) capable of helping to redefine, in a flexible way and each to its own degree, the value of social inclusion and with it the formation of the party’s social imaginary.

Sovereigntism as democratic sovereigntism In identitary terms, one of the most original characteristics of the PRLPs is their endorsement of sovereigntist values, something certainly unusual compared to the ideals typical of classical left parties and parties of the traditional radical left (Damiani 2016). In this section, we will attempt to define the concept of sovereigntism and then explain how this concept can be conjugated with respect to the historical tradition of part of the European left. Etymologically, the term sovereigntism contains within itself the term sovereignty, understood as a fundamental attribute of the nation-state from which it is nevertheless distinguished by a different meaning. The concept of sovereigntism was first coined in 1995 to indicate the movements that were demanding independence of Quebec from Canada.5 After that initial defeat, however, the expression did not disappear from the vocabulary of politics. In the early 2000s, the prevailing interpretation of the term refers to the opposition to and the contestation of the process of transferal of state functions and powers to supranational public and/or

58  New identitarian approach private organizations (Guetta 2019). Sovereigntist claims and protests appear on the contemporary political scene every time that spheres of authority and powers of decision previously recognized as belonging to national states are removed from democratic and popular control, putting them at the disposition of third parties, mainly interested in maximizing economic profit. Put another way, sovereigntism is adopted with the intention of recovering the principle of political sovereignty, which (according to its proponents) runs the risk, because of the onset and progression of globalization, of being neutralized by the actions of unelected and socially restricted power elites. To stay within the boundaries of Europe, one of the first examples of sovereigntism is the debate conducted in France at the close of the 20th century regarding the adoption of a single currency. Opponents of the adoption (among them a piece of the radical left) begins to highlight the risk of losing political and economic sovereignty in favor of a model of international governance untethered to the principle of democratic legitimacy. Some years later, the same reasoning is applied to the French referendum for the approval or disapproval of the European Constitution, held with a negative outcome in 2005.6 A rather important novelty is that the concept of sovereigntism, easily assimilated by parties of the radical right founded on a political culture of nationalism, is also adopted by PRLPs (or by some of their internal currents). This Populist Radical Left sovereigntism is based on the contraposition of “us” – the majority of the people claiming the exercise of decisional power for themselves over all the other mechanisms adopted in liberal democratic regimes – verses “them” – corrupt elites who would like to re-direct the unfolding of political processes of transformation toward the pursuit of their own material interests, thus subtracting them from the principle of state sovereignty. The condition that makes it possible for radical populist left parties to adopt sovereigntism as an identitary value is effectively outlined in the reflections proposed by Mitchell and Fazi (2017). According to Fazi and Mitchell, it all originates for economic reasons. Indeed, in their view, the season of Keynesianism was only a brief and happy parenthesis in the history of western capitalism. Specifically, in Europe, during the Glorious Thirty (from 1945 to 1973 or thereabouts), the democratic and capitalist states succeeded in guaranteeing high rates of economic growth, high levels of employment, growing salaries and profits and an extension of social and economic rights never known in previous epochs, all of which were accompanied by solid international financial stability.7 In this context, left parties mistakenly came to assume that the progressive compromise between capital and labor was an irreversible social contract that would produce a transition toward a post-capitalist society. After the 1970s, however, with the crisis of the Keynesian model, the solution proposed by the left parties of Tony Benn in the UK and François Mitterrand in France turned out to be impracticable. In the international balance of economic power, the objectives set by the labour government of England and the socialist government of France were shown to be overly ambitious. The two leaders and their respective parties, in continuity with the preceding historical epoch, proposed to achieve full occupation, expansion of the welfare

New identitarian approach  59 state, the redistribution of wealth, the nationalization of strategic economic sectors, democratic control over investment and production decisions, industrial planning and the subjugation of finance to the needs of the collectivity. Nevertheless, these proposals, despite having raised the highest expectations among the majority of European citizens, are immediately abandoned by the very governments that proposed them due to the practical impossibility of carrying them out. Still and all, a project of this kind could only have been accomplished over the mid to long term by implementing strongly redistributive economic policies. At the same time, such policies would require maintaining a rigorous autonomy of the national state and its sovereignty over monetary policy and the consequent possibility to finance public spending through the printing of money. The reaction to these difficulties is not long in coming. In those years, in fact, with the advent of the governments of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, the unfolding of historical processes of transformation undertakes a totally different direction. It starts with severe reductions in public spending and, along with them, a systematic dismantling of the welfare state, which in Europe had established the conditions for the conquest of “progressive democracy” within the confines of liberal and capitalistic nation-states.8 It is in these conditions – a regime of international economic governance and profound transformation of existing power relationships – that a certain part of the European left, and particularly the parties of the radical populist left (or some of their internal factions) proposes the alternative of rejecting the logic of “external constraint.” They advocate taking back popular and national sovereignty, understood as an indispensable condition for relaunching – from the left – the political project interrupted by the advent of the neoliberal economy. According to some leaders of the PRLPs (there is not total agreement on this point), those who oppose the restoration of national sovereignty on the basis of their ideological opposition to the nationalist ideals fail to understand that those ideals have in large part been dismantled and replaced by transnational, supranational, and international institutions and entities (both public and in some cases private). Such institutions, in this interpretation, are not representative but are nonetheless capable of influencing the destiny of regularly elected governments and the political stability of sovereign states (Strange 1996; Cerny 2010; Jessop 2016; Cerny and Prichard 2017). In this regard, the Italian constitutionalist Alessandro Somma (2018) refers to the concept of “delinking”, elaborated by Samir Amin (1990) in relation to the struggles of colonial peoples, and argues for its application to the global market. According to Somma, like formerly colonialized states, European states need to disconnect themselves from supranational institutions and agencies to which they are tied in order to reorganize the opportunities for participation and choice characteristics of all democratic political processes. It is in this context that the phrase “democratic sovereigntism” is coined (Ferry 2006). The goal is the non-nationalist recovery of the national dimension as the political arena within which the redistributive conflict can be managed. Taken to the extreme, this argument presupposes the overcoming of supranational conflict by privileging the return to a model of government organized within the borders

60  New identitarian approach of the nation-state. In the intentions of the democratic sovereigntists, all of this adds up to opposing the neoliberalist single market in order to foster an economic democracy capable of promoting – or trying to promote the principles of equality, freedom, and solidarity, always so dear to parties on the left. The proposal is based on the conviction that the treaties constituting the European Union are in themselves unamendable in that they are the depositories and the guarantors of the established neoliberal political regimes. For this reason, according to the democratic sovereigntists, it would be misleading to attempt to democratize supranational institutions and even more illusory to believe that this process could be successful in the case of the founding institutions of the European Union. According to this reading, after the construction of economic Europe, it is not plausible to imagine the construction of a political Europe. Hence the desire to recover national sovereignty also in the field of monetary policy both because of the need to balance growth and competitiveness differentials and because the Eurozone, as the home of a single currency of exchange, is inexorably destined to favor its own political center at the expense of the countries located on its periphery (Somma 2018). In this regard, sovereigntists on the left who champion democratic sovereigntism avoid any reference to historical nationalism, as it is conceived by populists and sovereigntists on the right, who use the idea of the nation to exalt identitary features (culture, myth, language and religion), shared by an entire uniform and homogeneous population within historically shared territorial borders. Contrary to this interpretation of soveriegntism, democratic sovereigntists, and with them left sovereigntists, defend a concept of the people which is such by virtue of its sharing a common set of rights and duties. From this point of view, the nation is the territory in which all people who subscribe to a mutually recognized political order live, work and fight for their rights. Jean Luc Mélenchon who, among the leaders of the PRLPs is the one who pushed more than any of the others in the direction of a sovereigntist option, is very clear in expressing this argument: We define ourselves as a popular sovereigntist movement. . . . Sometimes to be a bit polemical, I say that we want independence for France, because we want to be independent, meaning that we want to be sovereign in our own country. . . . For this we need three things. First of all, to build a people that is sovereign over its own destiny. In the second place, we need democratic Parliaments that are tied to the will of the people. Finally, we need social ties between the people. The strong have to take care of the weak. Parents have to take care of their children, and the young the old. Solidarity is fundamental in a society.9 In its rejection of nationalistic sovereigntism, democratic sovereigntism takes the form of patriotic sovereigntism, understood as the desire for self-determination and self-government, or better, as opposition to a structure perceived as “colonialist.” One of the most noted historical examples of this in the modern era (apart from the demand of Scottish independence from English colonial power) is the Enlightenment, which was the first to conceive of the nation as the supreme value of freedom. In his Encyclopédie, Diderot (1751–1772) writes that the nation “does not mean the

New identitarian approach  61 place where we were born, as the popular conception has it, but rather a free state of which we are members and whose laws protect our freedom and our happiness”.10 In the experience of the 19th-century Italian Risorgimento, understood as a rebellion against rulers who were for the most part foreigners and believed to be illegitimate, the patriots were people who loved their country, understood in the Enlightenment sense and fought and struggled for her. In this case, far from corresponding to the territorial unity of a given political community, Giuseppe Mazzini saw the nation as the association of free citizens that guarantees full respect of political and social rights in a way that allows everyone to live in a state of economic, social and cultural dignity. Judging nationalism to be a politics of power justified in the name of a concept of nation no longer ennobled by the supreme values of political freedom and respect for the rights of man, Mazzini ties the nation in the opposite manner to the principle of human brotherhood. To remain in Italy, during the antifascist Resistance (1943–1945) fought in the name of patriotic ideals, in this case is to liberate the country from the forces of Nazi-Fascism who were illegitimately occupying the national territory. If nationalism is conceived as a phenomenon born of the need to live in a culturally homogenous community, patriotism distinguishes itself for its intention to defend or take back political freedom from a tyrant, from an authoritarian regime, or from foreign domination. The Spanish leader of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, expresses this idea very clearly: today, we are defending Spain and we are defending an idea of the nation, but an idea of the nation that protects, does not attack, and does not insult. Because we know very well what the nation is. The nation is public hospitals. The nation is the guarantee that if your parents are elderly they can qualify for assistance. The nation is having the right to enroll your children in a public school with the best teachers. The nation is possessing a railroad line from north to south and east to west. The nation is having the right to a dignified public pension. The nation is having a state capable of initiating investigations of the corrupt and the thieves that make investments in Panama. That is the nation. Spain is not a brand name to sell. Spain is its people and its citizens . . . and we will not permit anyone to soil the word Spain. We won’t accept lessons of patriotism from anyone, from the corrupt or from those who wrap themselves in the flag. . . . Those who say that Spain is made of a monarchy and a king are those who have not understood that out country is much more complex, plural, and diverse. The worst Spaniards are the ones who don’t know how to construct an idea of the homeland that can serve and protect everyone. Unlike them, we demand a homeland that can protect everyone. . . . An idea of a nation that embraces us, that protects us, that does not assail us and that engages in dialogue.11 In the case of the PRLPs, keeping in mind the historical distinction between nationalism and patriotism, the external enemy that produces the patriotic sovereigntist reaction is the European Union. Therefore, the EU must be resisted in order to recover the democratic principle of political order. In the more radical view, Europe

62  New identitarian approach is described as a political institution desired by the great economic powers for the purpose of bringing to a halt democratic processes and imposing a reduction in welfare services and the introduction of recessive reforms in the labor market. According to the sovereigntists, these objectives are supposedly more easily achievable with the rules determined by the logic of “external constraint,” which eliminate the political sovereignty of national states and thus the main instruments of economic regulation. Therefore, democratic sovereigntists propose a hypothetical alliance between states to oppose the economic hegemony of markets over politics and, in so doing, to organize a reaction against the pervasiveness of the self-regulated market. The aim is to make redistributive conflict into a political question. The adoption of democratic sovereigntism by the PRLPs brings with it, however, a break from the tradition of the classic left and more than a few problems and contradictions with the principle of internationalism, which had been the hallmark of Marxist-inspired European parties since the 20th century. Ever since the appeal “Workers of the World, unite!” of the Communist Manifesto (Marx and Engels 1848), the internationalist left has always considered the national dimension as one of the masks of the capitalist bourgeoisie, worn in order to guide the people toward the interests of the bourgeoisie. Even in recent years, the post-Marxist literature tends to read the process of national construction as a political artifice, made up of invented traditions (Hobsbawm 1994) and imagined communities (Anderson 1983). That’s not all. Some rather important contradictions have also been noted by the Christian left, which judges sovereigntism, even in its democratic version, to be in stark contrast with the ideals of peace and brotherhood among peoples. Similarly, the Enlightenment-inspired left tends to keep its distance from sovereigntist paradigms, seen as being in contrast with the principle of cosmopolitanism. Within the category of the PRLPs, however, there is no unanimous agreement upon the concept of sovereignism. In an ad hoc interview on this topic with Alexis Tsipras, the statements of the leader of Syriza largely differ from those of Mélenchon and Iglesias. According to Tsipras: if sovereigntist is a term that defines a party that sees society as well as the state as sociopolitical constructs that can survive and thrive without interaction with the rest of the world (at the local, regional, or global level), with other societies, economies and political movements, then the answer is a resounding no. We believe in independence as well as we believe in fighting for the collective good (as we see it) in all the international fora. We do not believe in policies that shut our borders down, that are aggressive and isolationist. At the same time, we do not believe that the EU or any other international organization is perfect. Far from it. But we firmly believe that there is space for change within these institutions. We believe in forming common fronts and making alliances with all progressive forces, fighting together for a better Europe and a better world. Introversion is never the answer.12 The theme of popular sovereignty, therefore, remains controversial in the world of the European left. Nevertheless, despite some exceptions, at the beginning of the

New identitarian approach  63 21st century, the majority of the democratic and left sovereigntists begin to advocate a return to the enduring value of national borders, accompanied by an international solidarity founded on dialogue between nation-states. For a large part of the radical populist left, democratic sovereignty thus conceived is the element around which opposition to globalization and its negative effects in terms of increased economic inequality should be organized. Likewise, democratic sovereignty, in this view, is the antidote to a European Union constructed as a supranational entity to which the member states delegate a large slice of their political sovereignty. In synthesis, the rhetoric of democratic sovereigntism comes to be utilized, by the left, to organize the resistance against globalization by recovering national sentiment with the aim of defending the decision-making capacity of the nation-state against the interests and policies of neoliberalism.

Notes   1 Content analysis is a research technique that interprets and analyzes documents involved in the communication process in the strict sense (texts) or traces and artefacts, with the aim of comparing the analyzed contents in relation to pre-established categories of investigation. In the case at hand, this technique was used to extract the principle values of the PRLPs of Western Europe from their charters, by-laws, and campaign platforms.   2 Source: Patria e Costituzione. 2018. “Il Manifesto per la Sovranità Costituzionale.” Available at: www.patriaecostituzione.it/manifesto-per-la-sovranita-costituzionale/ (last access: 8 July 2018).   3 The reflections reported in this section are the fruit of a broader study aimed at investigating the functional mechanism of the social imaginary of the European radical left parties. The same argument is adopted in this volume to then be applied to the social imaginary of the PRLPs. For a more developed treatment of the same theme, please see Damiani and Sartarelli (2020).   4 For a deeper analysis of the relationship between means and ends see Serrano and Santarelli (2019).   5 A referendum to ask for independence for Quebec was held in 1995. The goal was to transform the whole francophone majority area into an autonomous nation by way of a political and economic process negotiated with the central government. The proposal was rejected by the majority of those who voted.   6 After the rejection of the European constitutional Treaty, in 2008 the French National Assembly approves the Lisbon Treaty (the Constitutional Charter of the European Union) following a long national political debate and a complex process of parliamentary reform.   7 The years of the Glorious Thirty come to a halt in 1973, in correspondence with the first oil crisis (the second would come in 1979), and the sudden increase of the price of oil and its derivatives. The crisis changes the mentality of European populations, who become more aware of the instability of the capitalist system, and words like “ecology” and “energy saving” enter the popular vocabulary, symptoms of an imminent change after thirty years of uninterrupted growth.   8 “Progressive democracy” is an expression used by Palmiro Togliatti (national secretary of the Italian Communist Party, from 1938 to 1964) to indicate the formation of an advanced democratic state based on the respect of civil rights and political rights, but also and above all on the recognition of social rights of citizenship. The reference to “progressive democracy” posits the constitution of a liberal state, open to “structural reforms”, capable of preparing the conditions for a generalized substantial equality (Galli 1958; Spriano 1967–1975).

64  New identitarian approach   9 Interview with Jean-Luc Mélenchon, conducted by the author on 15 February 2018. 10 The quote is found in D. Diderot. 1751–1772. Encyclopédie. Bouloiseau, Neuchatel. Vol. 12: 178. 11 Public statement by Pablo Iglesias, 1 December 2017 (source: http://youtube/ 9_QZXIQjN1w). 12 Interview with Alexis Tsipras, conducted by the author on 7 October 2019.

 

4

Forerunners of populism

Preview It all starts on the night of 9 November 1989, at the foot of the Brandenburg Gate, which for twenty-eight years, since 13 August 1961, had divided the world into two opposing blocs. After that night, and the fall of the Berlin Wall, Germany begins a process of reunification that takes the country toward its reconstituted territorial unity, reconnecting its eastern, formerly philo-soviet, part with its western side, historically in the orbit of the Atlantic Alliance. Formal unification comes on 3 October 1990. Economically, the reunification process, though quite fast, is very complex, given the feeble condition of the economy of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) compared to the strong economy of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany). Monetarily, German reunification is accomplished by way of a decision to set the exchange rate of the German mark to the disadvantage of East Germany and the advantage of West Germany.1 Following this decision, and for the next few years, because of its lack of competitiveness in the national and international markets, East Germany undergoes a massive de-industrialization, leading to an unemployment rate of nearly 20% (Behrend 1995; Caldwelll and Shandley 2001; Heitger and Waverman 2005). After reunification, pushed by a frantic search for work, internal migration from east to west continues without interruption. All of this produces a significant reduction in the population of the eastern Länder, creating a phenomenon of depopulation, especially among the most professionally qualified segments of the population, involved in a massive displacement to the western half of the country in search of jobs. In this way, there comes to be expressed what Helmut Wiesenthal (1998) defines as “postunification dissatisfaction”, understood as a generalized syndrome of ill-feeling on the part of Germans from the east against the Germans and ruling class of the west. Politically, in this new phase of German (and European) history, the first big change is the collapse of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED)2 and the creation of another political formation, constituted in continuity with the party, which had been led by Eric Honecker and which chooses as its new name the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS). Actually, adhering strictly to the evolution of events, the founding convention of the new party (Berlin 16–17 December 1989)

66  Forerunners of populism gives rise to a political entity provisionally called SED-PDS, thus maintaining for several more weeks the initials of the old party but simultaneously starting an immediate and progressive process of transformation and de-Stalinization of the party organization (Engert 2011). After this initial transitional phase, characterized by the attempt at a soft transition, the PDS is officially established on 4 February 1990, when Gregor Gysi (exponent of the SED and one of its leaders most sensitive to the reforms launched by Gorbachev in the years of glasnost and perestrojka) becomes the leader of the already-begun process of renewal, attributing to the party the single name of Party of Democratic Socialism (Neugebauer 2010).3 From that moment, and for all of the following decade, the ranks of the newly formed political party undergo a long period of self-criticism, which sees its most important leaders distance themselves from the German Democratic Republic, while nonetheless holding onto the desire to form a new anti-liberal party (Neugebauer 1997, 2003). The resentment of former East Germans toward the ruling class of the Federal Republic of Germany, who, according to a large portion of citizens residing in the east, had presided over a one-sided process of reunification with explicit advantages for only one of the two parties to the process, further exacerbate the frustration of the people of the former East Germany, who thus support the foundation and the growth of a radical left party, displaying clear traits of East/West conflict.

Framework The German case is one of the most unusual examples of re-composition of the European radical left (Koch-Baumgarten 1997). The PDS has been the object of various interpretations, from those who consider it a relic of a bygone age, nostalgic for East Germany (Bastian 1995), to those who describe it as a threat to German democracy (Gerner 1994; Moreau and Lang 1994), or those who attribute to it the role of a ferry party, with the aim of bringing the extreme left inside democratic institutions (Neugebauer and Stöss 1996). To be sure, in the country which represented for many years the frontier between East and West, the history of the German Party of Democratic Socialism is very peculiar and rather complex (Damiani and Viviani 2015). In our view, however, beyond its specific complications, the PDS displays clear traits of populism, as confirmed by the presence of three of its fundamental characteristics: 1) criticism of the reunification process intended to accomplish the sole objective of reinforcing the political institutions of West Germany; identification of an elite deemed for the previous reasons to be the enemy of the people; 3) objective of moving beyond the current German economic system (Hough, Koβ and Olsen 2007). From its foundation, the main objective of the PDS is to organize a widespread “civil resistance” in order to block the attempted Anschluss (annexation) and politico-­cultural “colonization”, which, according to its political leadership, is being pursued by the ruling class of the former Federal Republic of Germany at the expense of citizens living in the former German Democratic Republic (Moreau 2008). For this reason, the literature refers at times to the Party of Democratic

Forerunners of populism  67 Socialism as a quasi-regional party of East Germany (Hough and Keith 2019), established to defend the interests of citizens living in the former Soviet bloc against the national elites leading the reunification process (Hough 2000; Olsen 2002, 2007; Hough et al. 2007). It has been claimed that this hypothesis is confirmed by analysis of election results and by the party’s political and electoral penetration in the eastern Länder, compared to its extreme weakness in the West (all election results will be presented in the following section). The PDS never manages to expand in the western part of the country for three main reasons (Olsen 2007): 1) the party remains structurally weak in West Germany with few members and a low level of territorial penetration; 2) in the western Länder, the identitary propositions of the PDS, understood as demands advanced in favor of the eastern part of the country, prevail over its programmatic proposals, contributing to the creation of its image as a political actor not particularly effective in the resolution of local government problems; 3) from the identitary point of view, the Party of Democratic Socialism pays a price, starting with its foundation for its “eastern trademark”, which branded it as a political heir of East Germany, frightening and alienating many of its potential voters in West Germany, which polls showed to be members of the left wing of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) but reluctant to vote for a party descendent from East Germany (Mc Kay 2004). After the elections of the early 1990s, which rewarded the PDS with relatively positive results in the eastern districts, the party achieves a surprisingly good result in the 1992 local elections in Berlin, coming close to 30% of the vote in some neighborhoods of the city. Despite the encouraging election results in those years, however, the Party of Democratic Socialism does not succeed in overcoming its internal divisions and rivalries, which explode in 1993 when it is discovered that Andrè Brie, one of the party’s most important leaders, has been hiding his secret involvement with the Stasi, the former East German Ministry of Security (the main East German security and espionage organization) and that Gregor Gysi, in defense of party unity, fails to speak out, despite being informed of the facts. It is in these circumstances that Lothar Bisky, an enlightened leader of the SED since he was very young, is elected president of the party, exercising a decisive influence within the party and interpreting with authority the leading role in the ongoing process of reform begun in previous years (Hüning and Neugebauer 1996).4 Under his direction, the PDS tries to play the role of a constructive opposition within the national democratic system while consolidating its strongholds in some of the eastern Länder and the capital. The early 90s are a time of transition, during which the party continues to direct its attention on the “Western question” without managing to expand its electoral base beyond the territories of East Germany. In the following years, as part of their effort to achieve this objective, the party leadership tries to include among its ranks (and among its candidates for office) members of civil society, neither party members nor activists, with personal and professional reputations of their own, politically close to the area represented by the alternative left. Despite this strategy, the intention to build consensus among the citizens of the western part of the country remains unfulfilled (Meuche-Mäker 2005; Prinz 2010).

68  Forerunners of populism With regard to its internal dynamics, the Party of Democratic Socialism presents a number of similarities with European radical left parties (Damiani 2016), with divisions between conservatives and innovators (between those, that is, who aspire to build and maintain an autonomous party not allied with socialist and social democratic parties and those who work to create a platform of government together with the other parties of the progressive left). These two opposing views take the form of opposing factions. On one side, the positions of Gysi and Bisky are oriented toward reinforcing the democratization of the party and intent on creating politico-electoral beachheads in the western part of the country through collaboration with the other progressive parties. On the other side are the theorists of the so-called Communist Platform, led by the then very young Sahra Wagenknecht, nostalgic for the old eastern political regime and opposed to the liquidation of Soviet and East German experience. Confronted with this debate and the risk of a return to the past, Gysi and Bisky threaten to resign should the PDS take a step backward by interrupting the already-initiated movement toward anti-authoritarianism and acceptance of the rules of democracy. The outcome of this internal conflict, though difficult to predict, proves to be positive for the party leadership, which in the second half of the 1990s confirms its intention to proceed with the process of renewal initiated in the wake of 1989. From 2000 to 2003, given the new internal balance of power, the presidency of the Party of Democratic Socialism is entrusted to Gabriele Zimmer, a Berliner then just over forty years old, a former member of the SED and a leader of the PDS in the region of Thuringia (Schütt 2000). Despite the large numbers in her favor, Zimmer’s leadership quickly runs into trouble. In addition to the difficulties encountered in the internal management of the party, the president’s position is weakened by the party’s poor performance in the 2002 federal elections, with the PDS able to elect only two members of parliament and risking exclusion from the Bundestag. Zimmer is forced to resign. Her exit and the failure of her political program leaves the field open for the return of Lothar Bisky, who, after three years exile from the party leadership, is re-elected to the office of president. The internal conflicts, however, are not destined to quiet down. The dispute is always the same: on one side, those who claim the time is already ripe to construct an alternative governing coalition with the other progressive forces; on the other, those who say they are not interested in governing but in building a radical left party in opposition to the neoliberal governments, with a clear preference for the cause of the eastern Länder (Liebich 2009). Despite the persistence of the internal conflict, the new Bisky presidency succeeds in managing the dispute while avoiding schisms, and in restoring to the PDS a securely progressive leadership, which from that moment on, far from blocking the process of renewal begun in the past, further accelerates the democratic adaptation undertaken in the preceding years. What is certain is that the historical trajectory of the Party of Democratic Socialism is never a straight line. Management of the party becomes more and more complicated, with the potential risk (never actualized) of turning back on its acceptance of the rules of democracy. With regard to policy, the PDS will always remain an “eastern-looking” party, which will never succeed in building a base in the western

Forerunners of populism  69 part of the country. It will remain a party, therefore, whose political rhetoric will be centered around the clear contraposition between the interests of the people of East Germany and the objectives of the ruling elite of West Germany. From this point of view, the PDS can be considered a true and proper populist party, in complete respect of the definition provided in the first part of the book. If it has an anomalous characteristic, it is its ideological inheritance from real socialism, which is the mark of a value system different from the ideal-typical model of the populist parties. Nevertheless, its political program displays continuity with the identitary politics of the classic populist parties, interweaving the cleavage of the Marxist tradition – the opposition between capital and labor – with the populist cleavage of the us/them conflict, which in the case of the Party of Democratic Socialism of Germany can be identified in the pair of opposites constituted by the people of East Germany versus the elites of West Germany. From this point of view, the PDS can be considered a forerunner of the PRLPs. Notwithstanding its characteristics, the threats to it political-institutional survival prompt the PDS to undertake a profound transformation. The occasion presents itself after the 2002 federal elections. In that context, the composition of a new red-green government, with a majority formed by the SPD and the Grünen (Greens), led for the second consecutive time by Gerhard Schroeder, former president of Lower Saxony and leading figure in the social-democratic party (Bosco and Schimd 2010), will not last long, leading Germany toward a serious political crisis. Because of the narrow parliamentary majority supporting the government and internal conflicts within the executive, the Chancellor decides to present his resignation after just three years in office, opening the way to early elections, set for September 2005. These circumstances bring about the conditions for the start of a new political course oriented toward the inauguration of a process of enlargement of the original boundaries of the German left. It all begins with the composition of a political formation occupying the space ranging from the PDS to the SPD. In those years, in fact, the policies carried out by the Schroeder government (and outlined in the program of his “Agenda 2010”, a packet of reforms presented to deal with the most urgent problems of the national economy, of industrial policy and employment, social security and health reform) is branded as neoliberal by the left wing of the SPD, which thus decides to break off from the party (Hildebrandt 2009; Somma 2015). It is in this context that, in July 2004, the WASG (Labour and Social Justice – The Electoral Alternative) is born. It is a rassemblement that brings together a heterogeneous group of people made up of officers of IG Metal, the union historically close to the social-democratic party, critical members of the SPD, including Thomas Handel and Klaus Ernst; former members of the PDS and the Grünen, as well as some radical left intellectuals. They are joined by some social movement activists, including some from Attac and minor parties and organizations of the extra-parliamentary left (Neugebauer 2010). The lowest common denominator among the various segments of the newly constituted political formation is the disappointment with the direction taken by the second Schröder government. The first test of strength for the WASG comes in May 2005 with the renewal of the regional institutions of North Reno-Westphalia. The negative results in those

70  Forerunners of populism elections for the parties to the left of the SPD (the WASG with just a little over 2% while the PDS remained at about 1%) confirms the necessity of a reciprocal rapprochement. Beyond their mutual fears and worries, the interests of the two political formations seem completely compatible. While the WASG has a high level of penetration in the lands of West Germany, the PDS, almost completely absent in the western part of the country, is able to contribute to the project its important organizational capacity in East Germany. It is with this in mind that the Party of Democratic Socialism, in the wake of decisions taken by its leadership, starts to work on finding a point of contact and collaboration with the leaders of the WASG (Hough et al. 2007). The acceleration of the process of rapprochement comes a few months later, when the WASG welcomes the arrival among its ranks of Oskar Lafontaine, a well-known leader and former president of the SPD, who had left the party in 2005 following serious misunderstandings, personal as well as political, with the then German Chancellor5 The encounter between Gysi and Lafontaine constitutes the fundamental premise for the accomplishment of a wide-ranging political operation to the left of the SPD. The two men immediately reach a personal understanding, which in the succeeding weeks and months becomes strategic and decisive for the establishment of a unified political subject. The first concrete step forward comes just before the national elections of 2005, when the two groups choose common candidates, presented in the western Länder under the name Linkspartei (Left Party) and in the eastern part of the country as Linkspartei PDS. On the national level, the elections are won by the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU), and the first government of Angela Merkel takes power. At the same time, however, the alternative left achieves a good result, encouraging its leaders to persevere in their project. They form a single parliamentary group which works as a truly unified party. Officially, the turning point comes at the tenth, and last, federal convention of the PDS (Berlin 15–17 June 2007), which is held at the same time as the convention of the WASG. The two parties then jointly decide to dissolve and form a single, unified party, Die Linke, or Left Party (LP).6 At the moment of its foundation, the outlook is rather encouraging, with Die Linke potentially able to interpret an important role in the national political system by overcoming the distinction between the eastern and western parts of the country. Nevertheless, the process of amalgamation is relatively complex, and achievement of the final objective is not immediate. For this reason, and with respect for the two sensibilities of both constituents, it is decided to create a dual leadership, appointing two spokespersons. At first, the LP chooses as its two presidents the outstanding personalities and most important leaders of the PDS and the WASG, appointing Lothar Bisky and Oskar Lafontaine. The two remain in office for almost a complete three-year term, leading the party to an important electoral success in the federal elections of September 2009, to then be replaced a few months later when the ex-president of the SPD announces his retirement due to serious health problems.7 These are the years of the explosion of the economic crisis of the Great Recession and the electoral success of Angela Merkel. In this context, after Lafontaine’s

Forerunners of populism  71 resignation, the presidency of the LP passes to Gesine Lötzsch and Klaus Ernst, the first as representative of the former PDS and the latter on behalf of the WASG. Upon their election, the two spokespersons are assigned an unprecedented task and challenge in the effort to put Die Linke in conditions to overcome its internal conflicts. Up to this time, the conflicts had prejudiced the institutional dialogue between the alternative party on the left and the German social-democrats, who, for their part, did not forgive Lafontaine for having left the party. Despite high expectations, the interregnum of the two leaders lasts only two years, failing to withstand the polemical fires kindled by a declaration by Lötzsch concerning the possible return of communism to Germany (Wege zum Kommunismus).8 The polemics set off by that interview cause the party’s internal conflicts to re-explode, accelerating the epilogue of a political course that was leading the LP to a generalized crisis: of votes, membership and institutional visibility (Damiani 2016). Given the intervening difficulties after less than five years from its founding, this political crisis opens the way for the appointment of Katja Kipping and Bernd Riexinger. The first, a woman from the East, from the PDS, the second a man from the West, coming from the ranks of the WASG. The two are given the extremely difficult assignment to recreate a climate of collaboration between the two internal political factions in order to recover as much as possible from the negative image that the party was taking on in the eyes of the electorate. This time, unlike past attempts, things seem to go in the hoped-for direction. Less than a year after the installation of the new presidency, the balance is positive. Indeed, thanks to the efforts of the two presidents, after having understood that a split-up of the different factions of the party would lead to the political death of both of them, the two factions initiate a phase of relative pacification, brought together by the desire to pursue an understanding as the only practicable option. However, the endogenous conflict is not destined to be resolved. After a period of relative tranquility, which held out the promise of the formation of a pacified party ready to play a prominent role in the national political system without territorial distinctions or an east/west separation, the violent internal debate erupts again. This time the object of disagreement is the single European currency. In opposition to the front of the more optimistic Europeanists, there are proposals for Germany’s exit from the euro given the difficult conditions in which the popular and less-wealthy classes are forced to live, especially during the period of economic recession starting in the early 2000s. The first proponent and supporter of this motion is Oskar Lafontaine, having in the meantime recovered from his illness. The former finance minister releases an interview in the following months supporting the necessity of thinking about a monetary system that will allow the countries of Europe to take back their economic sovereignty, enabling them to undertake operations of devaluation and re-valuation by way of an exchange system controlled by the European Union and the central bank.9 This is a recognizably anti-Europeanist position, classifiable among the populist positions adopted by Sovereigntist PRLPs. This hypothesis is met by some favorable responses in Die Linke and a lot of opposition. Among the voices of opposition, there is a concern that they must

72  Forerunners of populism publicly reject the proposal so as to restore to the party an image of institutional reliability which, in their view, has been threatened by Lafontaine’s announcement, again putting the party’s survival in jeopardy. Among the critics are Gysi and two former national party presidents, Kipping and Riexinger. According to the party’s general staff, Lafontaine’s proposal would be fatal first of all for Germany, which would remain isolated amidst the collapse of its exports. In fact, in contradicting the opinion of one of its most charismatic leaders, the official position of Die Linke is aimed at demonstrating its full support for monetary unity while confirming its opposition to the policies of austerity implemented in those years by European conservative governments but also by socialist and social-democratic governments. The German radical left presents itself in the elections of 2013 torn by this internal debate but achieving nonetheless a positive result which, despite the fears on the eve of the election, allow it to constitute an autonomous parliamentary group in the Bundestag. The favorable outcome is also confirmed in the 2014 European elections and the federal elections of 2017. These results, confirming the stable presence of the LP in the German political system, help to quiet down the party’s internal conflicts. The difficulties reappear with equal disruptive force in the summer of 2018, with the same dynamics as always and two opposing factions. The specter of a split-up of the LP presents itself once again. In this case, the discord is caused by the constitution of a collateral movement of Die Linke, founded by the internal faction led by Sahra Wagenknecht and Oskar Lafontaine. The name of the movement, constituted as an independent association, is Aufstehen (Stand Up). Wagenknecht and Lafontaine’s objective is to combat right-wing xenophobia and recuperate for the left the issues of housing, education, immigration and jobs, all defined in sovereigntist terms. Aufstehen announces what amounts to a turn in the opposite direction with respect to the line of march indicated by the secretariat led by Kipping and Riexinger. For the founders of Aufstehen, the confirmation of the grand collation government in the 2017 elections represents the confirmation of the neoliberalist policies implemented by all the preceding governments, and with them the growth of economic inequality and social insecurity for a broad swath of the popular electorate, which in recent years had gone over to swell the ranks of the radical right parties. The objective, therefore, is to begin to change the story told up to that moment about the immigration phenomenon. The strongest conflict opened up with the national leadership of Die Linke is centered around opposition to the policy of “open borders for all”,10 which, according to Wagenknecht and her colleagues, was no longer possible because of the costs of this operation in terms, above all, of lowering the cost of labor and the quality of welfare services. Aufstehen comes into being with a clear populist rhetoric. Its aim is to oppose the German ruling class in order to bring about a change of course and a radical transformation of government policy. From this point of view, the intention is to combat the ongoing process of globalization by invoking a return to national borders within which democracy had been founded in the previous centuries.11 This clearly sovereigntist position is in perfect continuity with other movements and PRLPs in Western Europe, which we will present in the chapters that follow.

Forerunners of populism  73 The life of Auftehen, however, is rather brief. Shortly after its foundation, the association seems to have exhausted its political function, as illustrated by the decisive step backward of Sahra Wegenknecht, who leaves the movement’s leadership in March 2019.12 The formal reason for this choice is connected to the accumulation of stress in the previous months and years, but the more profound reasons are of a political nature. According to Heinz Bierbaum: Aufstehen has been a political failure. Although the initial analysis was correct . . ., Aufstehen has never been discussed inside the party. On the contrary, it has been in competition with Die Linke. The goal of influencing the Social Democrats and the Greens has also failed. [For what concerns internal dynamics] there are not two groups in the party. Anyway, this failure and the resignation of Sarah Wagenknecht had a negative effect on the party’s development. After the defeat in the European elections (2019) it become evident that a serious debate on the strategy and the political profile of Die Linke is increasingly necessary.13 Addressing the principal leaders of Die Linke in the days following her resignation, Wagenknecht declares: do we want to be a party in fashion, for students and residents of urban centers, or do we want to become a political force capable of dialoguing with workers, employees, skilled workers, low income people and the unemployed, or do we want to leave these people to the AFD? The second option is more difficult, because we’re talking about people who have been politically disappointed time after time and who no longer believe in political parties. But a left that is no longer elected by those who are the worst victims of predatory capitalism has lost its soul.14 Wagenknecht’s idea is very clear. She describes Die Linke as a party capable of addressing itself only to intellectuals and the well off, abandoning the “losers” of globalization (Kriesi et al. 2008). She thus lays claim to the need for a different left, at the side of those who have been defeated. In this regard, however, the fundamental problem is to try to understand the compatibility of this faction of Die Linke within the party. Indeed, far from wanting to undertake the direction of march indicated by Aufstehen, the majority faction of the LP, represented by the national leadership, has in mind a strategy of alliance among all the pieces of the left to try to overcome the scheme of the grand coalition and force the SPD to look toward a red-green aggregation. The ideas of the main party leaders coincide perfectly on this point, starting with those of Gregor Gysi, who makes no mystery about this possibility: in recent years we have witnessed a widening detachment of the SPD from its social-democratic profile, first in the coalition with the Greens, and then in the triple entry in the grand coalition. . . . The consequent crisis of credibility

74  Forerunners of populism of the political establishment, including the leadership of the SPD, and the transformation of the party system present challenges for all parties, forcing them to reformulate their role in society. . . . A center-left majority is still desirable and should become our objective. If we succeed in creating the conditions to enter the government, we will be able to do something more effective and more quickly: for peace, for wages and salaries, against poverty.15 Gabriele Zimmer also reinforces this position: we have to build an alliance strategy and try to respond to our questions: how to change the system? How to change people’s daily lives? How to obtain a majority? How to combat climate change? Die Linke has 10% in the federal elections . . ., but we also have to look to the other forces on the left. . . . We have to create alliances with the unions. . . . We have to create a democratic majority with the other parties [of the German left].16 In this regard, even Fabio De Masi, exponent of the radical wing of the party, agrees with the strategy of alliances, though posing some non-negotiable conditions: in general yes, but entering coalition agreements which basically would end in a prolongation of the status quo would make Die Linke superfluous. If yes: Under what conditions? From ‘Die Linke’s Erfurt Programme’ [pp. 76–77]: we will not participate in any government that wages war and authorizes Bundeswehr combat missions abroad, that promotes armament and militarization, that privatizes services of general interest or curtails social services, and whose policy worsens the way the Public Service performs its duties.17 Indeed, up until just a few years ago, this was also the position of Sahra Wagenknecht, who in the course of a previous interview with us expressed herself very clearly: [the relationships between the two German lefts] depend on the evolution of the SPD. We have repeatedly underlined that we are ready to work together if the basic responsibilities of the government include questions of wages and salaries and pensions, the defense of an adequate welfare state, and a foreign policy founded on peace. In the future . . . if it does not decide to work together with Die Linke, the SPD will not be able to win the elections and elect the Chancellor. Therefore, we expect that the internal debate in the SPD to be deep enough to bring the party back to its historical position in the socialdemocratic tradition. This would reinforce the SPD and allow it to get out of the political ghetto it has built together with the CDU.18 These are the words of Wagenknecht before the foundation of Aufstehen. Some reflections of those inside Die Linke, however, appear to have changed, and the conflict within the party has once again become very strong. The challenge facing

Forerunners of populism  75 Die Linke is how to bring together its internal divisions. In this regard Gregor Gysi is optimistic: the political conditions exist for these two parts to continue to stay together. The conditions exist, and this has also been demonstrated during the convention of Die Linke in Bonn [22–24 February 2019]. The platform adopted by the party weds the positions of the supporters of the EU with those of the critics of the EU, and this was not easy to do. The delegates were also able to find clear common positions, such as raising the minimum wage to 60% of the average salary in EU countries, prohibiting the export of European arms, taxing the great digital companies and beginning immediately to reduce the use of coal.19 Despite the optimistic words of Gysi, the outcome of the internal conflict within Dee Linke cannot be taken for granted. It is impossible to predict whether one side will win out over the other with a re-found (and transitory) internal peace, or if the clash will lead to a split-up of the party. What is certain is that the LP is an anomalous party with respect to the other PRLPs, with internal dynamics comparable to those of the traditional radical left, but nonetheless recognizable within the populist political platform. It is also true that the populist content of the parties of the German radical left has changed over time. The PDS claimed that the policy of the state was hostage to the power-thirsty western elites. In this sense, the populist rhetoric was very clear, representing the German citizens in the East as citizens put at a disadvantage by a political system that worked to satisfy the interests of the capitalist ruling class of West Germany. A few years later, with respect to its populist proposals, Die Linke effected a strong differentiation from the PDS. Putting aside the east/west opposition, the LP continues to use populist rhetoric conceived as a struggle (without territorial boundaries) between the people (as a whole) and the (economic and financial, national and international) elites. It is in this direction that Die Linke launches its demands for political, economic and social reforms. The objective is to try to represent the needs of the people against the interests of the dominant elite. The hypothesis underlying the political reflections advanced by Die Linke is that the power of decision has lost the characteristic of national sovereignty to be placed at the disposal of big corporations, multinational industries and the main players in international governance, all non-elective (including the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank). Starting from this presupposition, the demand is to change some of the mechanisms of institutional regulation by advancing explicit requests to place the financial system under democratic control and to introduce reforms aimed at radicalizing representative democracy in order to return power to the people, against the power elites who now wield it in non-democratic forms. For all the reasons indicated above, in agreement with what has been written by Mudde (2004), March (2011) and van Kessel (2015), we consider both the PDS and Die Linke as forerunner parties of European left populism.

76  Forerunners of populism

Results In reunified Germany, the post-1989 period opens with the democratic elections scheduled for December 1990. The newly constituted PDS manages to get more than one million votes, sending a delegation of seventeen deputies to the Bundestag (Table 4.1). The party’s program is centered on its critique of the process of national re-unification and on the manner of its implementation to the disadvantage of the citizens residing in the eastern part of the country. Exploiting the resentment toward the ruling class of West Germany, the Party of Democratic Socialism achieves a solid electoral success in the eastern Länder. Its publicly declared objective during the election campaign is to represent in the parliament the specific interests of the citizens of East Germany (Neugebauer 2010). In its electoral debut, the PDS records a weak result, with low points in the western regions, where in some cases it reaches percentages just above zero.20 In subsequent years, however, in the face of its almost complete absence in the western territories, the PDS manages to achieve solid levels of electoral penetration in the eastern part of Germany. The Party of the Democratic Socialism records its best result in the federal elections of 1998, with more than two and a half million votes at the national level (Table 4.1). In that election the PDS gets more than 21% in the eastern part of the county (Table 4.2). It is in this context that the Party of Democratic Socialism of Germany comes to be defined as a “quasi-regional party”, representing the interests of citizens residing in the regions of the former East Germany against those residing on the other side of what had been the Brandenburg Gate (Hough and Keith 2019). Table 4.1  Electoral Trends (PDS and LP) Federal Elections

European Elections

Year

Party

Votes

%

1990 1994

PDS PDS

1,129,578 2,066,176

1998

PDS

2,515,454







2002

PDS

1,916,702







2005

LP*

4,118,194

2009

LP

5,155,933

2013

LP

3,755,699









2017 –

LP –

4,297,270 –

9.2 –

69 –

– 2019

2.4 4.4 5.1 –

Seats

Year

Party

Votes

%

Seats

17 30

– 1994

– PDS

– 1,670,316

– 4.0

– 0

36













1999

PDS

1,567,745

5.8

6

4.0













2004

PDS

1,579,109

6.1

7

8.7

54











11.9

76

2009

1,969,239

7.5

8

64





2014



8.6

2

LP –







LP

2,167,641

7.4

7

LP

– 2,056,010

– 5.5

– 5



Source: Ministry of the Interior. * Before the founding of Die Linke, the German radical left presents itself in united form for the first time (PDS and WASG) under the electoral cartel of the Linkspartei (Left Party).

Forerunners of populism  77 Table 4.2  Federal Election Trends (West and East Germany)  

 

West Germany

East Germany

Year

Party

%

%

1990 1994

PDS PDS

0.3 1.0

11.1 19.8

1998

PDS

1.2

21.6

2002

PDS

1.1

16.9

2005

LP*

4.9

25.3

2009

LP

8.3

28.5

2013 2017

LP LP

5.6 7.4

22.7 17.8

Source: author’s elaboration of data from the Ministry of the Interior. *  Linkspartei (Left Party)

The turn-around comes in 2005, when parties to the left of the SPD present joint lists between the PDS and the WASG under the name of the Linkspartei. This electoral cartel manages to garner more than four million votes, doubling its best result up to that time. The year 2005 marks the definitive end of the Party of Democratic Socialism’s “regionalist” experience, signaling a fundamental political shift for the whole national political system (Saalfeld 2002). Figure 4.1 shows the percentage variation between the successive legislatures in Germany after 1989, showing a strong positive peak in correspondence with the 2005 elections (and in part in 2009).21 After its escape from peril in 2003, when the PDS seemed destined to disappear, starting with the federal elections of 2005, the political system of the German “quadrille”, composed of the CDU and the liberals (on the right) and the SPD and the Greens (on the left), is destined to be replaced by a “fluid five-party system” (Niedermayer 2002), characterized by the presence of five parties, all capable of overcoming the 5% bar set by the election law for access to the Bundestag. According to some observers, this occasion marks the “Europeanization” of the German political system, with the institutionalization of a political force on the left-left of the national political stage (Meyer 2005). Starting in 2005, having shaken off its label as the “heir of East Germany”, the overall electoral balance of the Die Linke appears to be one of growth, both in national and European elections. In terms of numbers, its record result comes in the 2009 federal elections, with an explosion in its percentage that brings the party to just below 12% of the vote and twenty-two deputies. In this regard, Figure 4.1 shows (both on the national and European levels) a positive percentage variation of almost 25% over the already impressive electoral result recorded four years earlier. The start of the second decade of the third millennium confirms the national presence of Die Linke, which, after a setback in 2013, returns to growth

78  Forerunners of populism

Federal Elections 114.9

120 100

82.9

80 60 40

25.2

21.7

14.4

20 0 -20 -40

-23.8 1994

1998

2002

-27.2 2005

2009

2013

2017

European Elections 120 100 80 60 24.7

40 20 0 -20 -40

0.7 -0.1

-6.1 1999

2004

2009

2014

-5.1 2019

Figure 4.1 Percentage Variation of PDS-LP (Calculated on the Basis of Actual Number of Votes)

again in 2017, confirming its stable presence in the national political system as it passes the Green party both in the number of votes received and the number of seats obtained in the parliament. In the 2014 European elections, Die Linke confirms the percentage attained five years earlier. The federal elections of 2017 show additional growth, with a result of over 9% and sixty-nine seats in the national parliament. The 2019 European elections witness another setback, with the LP holding on to its previous number of absolute votes but dropping to 5.5% and just five seats, losing, with respect to 2014, two percentage points and two seats in the European Parliament. After analyzing the results, Dietmar Bartsch, a party leader and its whip in the Bundestag, shows himself to be rather secure in fixing an electoral target for the party: Die Linke is a social and political alternative in German politics. We are coherently on the side of the worse off, for social justice and peace. In recent

Forerunners of populism  79 years, we have seen constant improvement in our election results because we have unmasked the policies of the Merkel government, describing it for what it is: neoliberal, anti-social and a threat to the peace in Europe and the world. . . . Die Linke aims for social justice, wanting to allow everyone to live in dignity, regardless of their origins, skin color, gender, or sexual identity. A world without arms and wars. Whoever shares these objectives can choose to vote for Die Linke.22 Die Linke’s political collocation is very clear. It can now address itself to a large pool of voters, which certainly includes workers, but not only. Indeed, along with the typical electorate of parties of the traditional left, Die Linke appeals to a broader segment of the German population, comprising within it new social categories, conceived in conflict with the ongoing process of neoliberal restructuring.

Notes   1 On 18 May 1990, an agreement is made between representatives of the still-divided two ex-Germanies, providing that from 1 July 1990 the East German mark would be converted at parity for salaries, prices, and bank deposits up to 4,000 marks per person. For higher amounts of deposits (for example, business debts and home rentals) conversion is made at the exchange rate of 2 to 1 (2 East German marks for 1 West German mark), while so-called “speculative money”, acquired before reunification, is converted at a rate of 3 to 1 (Behrend 1995; Caldwell and Shandley 2001; Heitger and Waverman 2005).   2 The SED is the single party with an absolute majority in East Germany, constituted in 1946 by the fusion of the German Communist Party (KPD) and part of the Social Democratic Party (SPD). The SED governed in the east from 1949, the year of the founding of the philo-soviet German Democratic Republic, until the first democratic elections of 1990.   3 Gregor Gysi holds the office of federal president of the party from 1990 to 1993. In 1998 he is elected to parliament, where he will serve until 2000 with the role of party whip of the PDS, to then become a commissioner of the City of Berlin. After the constitution of the PDS, at the beginning of the 2000s, together with Lothar Bisky, Gysi becomes the leader of yet another process of political transformation, which in 2007 will give rise to Die Linke (the only alternative party on the German left, which we will discuss in the second part of this section. In 2016 he becomes the president of the Party of the European Left.   4 Lothar Bisky, who died in 2013 at the age of 72, a leader of the SED, is elected president of the PDS in 1993 and holds the office until his resignation in 2000. Bisky will return to the leadership of the party after the presidency of Gabriele Zimmer (2003–2007), until the founding convention of Die Linke.   5 Up until the early 2000s, Lafontaine built his whole political career inside the SPD, becoming first Mayor of Saarlouis, his native city (from 1974 to 1985), then Governor of Saarland (from 1985 to 1998). In the federal elections of 1990, he is his party’s candidate for Chancellor. Those elections are won by Helmut Kohl, the leader of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU). In 1995, Lafontaine becomes president of the SPD. Three years later, in 1998, his successor, Gerhard Schröder, becomes prime minister of the re-unified Germany. In the first Shröder government, La Fontaine is Minister of Finance, an office that he will resign from in 1999, accusing the social-democratic chancellor of insufficient collaboration with his cabinet (Hoell 2004). Despite resigning from all of his leadership positions, Lafontaine remains in the SPD until 2005, when he joins the WASG.

80  Forerunners of populism   6 For a detailed reconstruction of the constitution of Die Linke, see Brie et al. (2007), Jesse and Lang (2008), Jesse (2013).   7 In the years of the Bisky-Lafontaine leadership (with Gysi as group leader in the Parliament) Die Linke achieves excellent results on the local level. In 2009, in Turingia, it wins nearly 28% of the vote. A few months later, in the Parliamentary elections for Saarland, its candidate for the presidency, Oskar Lafontaine, wins more than 21%. In both cases, negotiations to form a government are initiated between DL – SPD and Grünen, but in both cases it is decided to leave Die Linke outside of the regional governments, opting in the first case for a large coalition executive and in the second for a rassemblement composed of conservative, Greens, and liberals. In the same year, in the Brandenbourg Länder the LP candidate wins more than 27% of the vote, this time taking the party into the government together with the SPD (Neugebauer 2010).   8 Junge Welt, 3 January 2011.   9 The “no-euro” interview of Lafontaine can be viewed in Saarbrücker Zeitung, 29 April 2013. 10 Interview of Sahra Wegenknecht published in Focus on 10 February 2018, in preparation of the political operation initiated several months later. 11 Ibid. 12 Along with Wagenknecht, the Aufstehen project is also abandoned by other leading exponents, including Ludger Vollmer and Antje Vollmer, both of the Greens. 13 Interview with Heinz Bierbaum, 26 giugno 2019. 14 Interview with Sahra Wagenknecht, published in Stern on 22 March 2019. 15 Interview with Gregor Gysi, 26 February 2019. 16 Interview with Gabriele Zimmer, 26 September 2018. 17 Interview with Fabio De Masi, 17 May 2018. 18 Interview with Sahra Wagenknecht, 12 December 2013. 19 Interview with Gregor Gysi, 26 February 2019. 20 Ibid. 21 After 2009, with the exception of the federal elections of 2017, the total of absolute votes obtained by Die Linke is substantially weak, both at the national and European level, but without going below the threshold of alarm. 22 Interview with Dietmar Bartsch, 30 May 2018.

 

5

Ideal-typical populism

Preview The event that creates the conditions for the birth of the populist left in Spain happens on 15 May 2011. The date marks the culmination of Madrid’s celebrations in honor of Saint Isidro Labrador (Isidore the Laborer), the patron saint of farm workers and day laborers that the Spanish capital honors with a week of festivities. In 2011, however, something unexpected happens. Without any preparatory organization, an initially tiny group of young men and women surrounded by the noisy crowd gathers to celebrate the saint and starts setting up tents in the middle of the square with the intention to occupy the position and demonstrate to everyone their anger and disappointment over the country’s rapidly deteriorating social and economic conditions, as if to say that the festivities seem inappropriate given the ongoing crisis. It is precisely this moment that marks the ripening of the conditions that will lead to the events of Puerta del Sol. In just a few days, those few young men and women will become dozens, then hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands. Young and not-so-young people flock to the area around the main square of Madrid. In the hours and days that follow, the streets and piazzas of many other Spanish cities are overflowing with people. The protesters are men and women, students, the unemployed, precarious workers, blue- and white-collar workers. homemakers, artisans, professionals, teachers and university professors, small business people and storeowners. In short, on that day in May the “people” imagined six years before by Ernesto Laclau (2005) come together spontaneously, a people united by a strong resentment of the ruling classes who had led the country into those conditions of austerity, fatigue and unease. The occupiers of the center of Madrid and the main squares of the most important cities in Spain are a “people” never seen before, comprised only in the smallest part of the working class and for the most part by other social segments of all ages, professions and social backgrounds. Spontaneous and unexpected, the 15M (15 May) Movement is born and decides immediately to give itself a name that sounds like an authentic political manifesto: the people of the “indignados,” inspired by the title of the pamphlet Indignez-vous!, published the year before by Stéphan Hessel (2010). The widespread conditions of economic hardship in Europe in that period, especially in the countries on the northern shore of the Mediterranean, provoke a

82  Ideal-typical populism protest in Spain that immediately becomes a mass phenomenon (Ramiro Fernández and Gomez 2016). The invocation that rises up from the public squares is unanimous: we are the people comprised of all those who are paying the price of the economic and financial policies enacted by the political class, constituted (according to the protesters) without distinction by the bi-partisan leadership of Partito Popular (PP) and the Partito socialista obrero español (PSOE). An equal target of the indignados are the economic and financial elites and the upper classes who own most of the wealth. Que se vayan todos (Out with them all) is the slogan and the cry of indignation that the demonstrators shout on the streets against the oligarchies of the national government and the supra-national political institutions. The indignados are a movement composed of many persons united around a common (and at the same time plural) battle for collective survival. Carlos Taibo (2011: 7–11), speaking during the days of protest, summarizes quite effectively the motivations of the 15M: we who are here are certainly very different people. Our heads are full of very different ideas and plans. Nevertheless, [the governing classes] have made it possible for us to come to agreement on a handful of ideas. Which is the first? They call it democracy but it isn’t. The large institutions of the State, the big political parties, have demonstrated that they function independently of the needs of the population. . . . Second. We are often victims of the large numbers that they throw at us but that we don’t even know what they mean. In May of 2010, for example, The European Union demanded that the Spanish government cut public spending by something like fifteen thousand million euros. We don’t even understand how much that is. . . . Third. If there is a god worshipped by politicians, economists, and union leaders, it is the god of competitiveness. Anybody with a brain in his head knows what competitiveness has meant for most of the people who are here. The remarkable victories achieved in recent years in the matter of competitiveness are: lower and lower salaries, longer working hours, shrinking social rights, precarious conditions everywhere. . . . Fourth. Let’s not forget about the future generation and, along with them, all the species that live together with us on planet Earth. I say this, because in this country it is such a long time that we have confused growth and consumption with happiness and well-being. I’m talking about the same country that proudly approved environmental policies that have broken the precarious environmental balance. . . . Fifth. Among the objectives pursued by the platform promoted by the demonstrations [of the indignados] there is the express demand for a reduction in military spending.1 The indignados movement is multi-colored, comprised of people with different views but with a minimum common denominator, capable of holding together the most varied interests. The central nucleus around which the 15M Movement is structured is its battle against the elite of every color and level. To all this must be added two other fundamental demands that help keep the people of the indignados united. The first has to do with the environment and the demand for a new

Ideal-typical populism  83 model of economic development, more respectful of nature and the equilibrium of the ecosystem. The second is the demand for reduced military spending in favor of an increase in public spending to finance social welfare programs. In describing the protest movement, Juan Carlos Monedero (2012), political scientist at the “Complutense” University in Madrid, as well as founder of Podemos in charge of its political philosophy, uses evocative language: “dormiamos y despertamos” (we were asleep and we woke up). According to Monedero, in the static situation of Spanish politics, 15 May 2011 is an earthquake in the wake of which the “people” pour into the streets, fearful and dubious, but hopeful of being able, all together, to take back their democratic space by removing it from the logic of the market. In trying to explain the appearance of this movement, it is possible to identify three different reasons that (together) bring about the fundamental conditions for its inception. In the early 2000s, Spain is a country characterized by three features: 1) memory loss. What happens in Spain presupposes a brusque interruption of the regular passage of time. The generation that plays a leading role in the events is witness to a sort of damnatio memoriae that erases awareness of historical continuity, paradoxically creating the possibility to open up new spaces for political action. In Spain, this process of historical memory loss makes it possible to overcome the divisive memory of the authoritarian fascist regime and the subsequent phase of democratic transition, erasing the ideological contraposition between post-fascists and anti-fascists. The younger generation is a generation desmemorada (forgetful), which by virtue of having forgotten, shows itself capable of enacting new forms of political action; 2) loss of fear. The indignados are a generation of people called upon to manage extremely difficult, personal and collective situations to which the responses of the traditional parties (PP and PSOE) and the political institutions have been macroscopically demonstrated to be unable to resolve the problems of the present day. This is the context that creates the conditions for them to try to renew the traditional mechanisms of political participation without fearing the consequences of their actions; 3) disorientation. This is a phenomenon analogous to “post incarceration syndrome,” in which the newly released prisoner starts running around aimlessly in celebration of his new freedom. This is what happens in Spain almost three decades after the end of the fascist regime. (Despite some differences, the same thing occurred in Italy during the 1970s.) After the transitional phase and the first experience of constitutional democracy, Spanish society is affected by a broad and widespread sense of collective disappointment over the unsatisfactory levels of institutional performance in the first ten years of the new millennium. All of this leads to the demand for new instruments of direct democracy capable of organizing a more capillary participation by the people in the political life of the country and its public institutions.

84  Ideal-typical populism In consideration of these three conditions, the 15M Movement produces a deep rupture with the past, which turns out to be decisive for the inauguration of a new political season, capable of representing the ideas and principle demands for renewal voiced by the indignados.

Framework The appearance of the 15M Movement is the sine qua non for the foundation of Podemos (“We Can”). Indeed, without the protests in the public squares that bring together the diffuse malaise in Spanish society, there would no chance to organize a new political force. This correlation is described very well by Juan Carlos Monedero: the 15M Movement is essential to the founding of Podemos. Without the 15M movement Podemos would not exist because the people of the indignados constructed a new political narrative. The 15M Movement re-politicized Spain, but it did so in an original way. It re-politicized conflict, but it did not do so against immigrants, against politics, or against the unions, but rather against the politicians of bipartisanism and against the bankers. This new narrative is the fundamental premise for a different kind of political action. Without the 15M Movement, Podemos would not exist.2 And again: the 15M Movement was like a seed that germinated when the first drops of rain fell. . . . There is a cartoon by ‘El Roto’, the cartoonist for the newspaper El Pais, who, on 16 May [2011], the day after the appearance of the 15M Movement, did a drawing of the Puerta del Sol with a lot of different colored heads and the caption: ‘the young people took to the streets and all the parties suddenly grew old’. That’s exactly what happened: the 15M Movement made all the political parties age fast.3 Nevertheless, Podemos is not born immediately following the events of Puerta del Sol. Three years would pass after those events before the constitution of a political subject representative of the indignados’ generation. In this case, too, Monedero provides an explanation: our adversaries were hoping that we [the indignados] would start a new party immediately after Puerta del Sol. That, however, is an old strategy, which is part and parcel of the parliamentarization of conflict. Instead, the conflict needs to be kept in the streets because the streets are the place where political ties are produced and strengthened. That’s not possible to do in a Parliament. The collective consciousness ripens in the places and in the spaces where people live and fight. . . . [In that moment], everyone knew that something was happening, it wasn’t necessary to define a dynamic for the ongoing process

Ideal-typical populism  85 because everyone knew that the 15M Movement was laying the basis for a new populist movement. . . . Then [from the events of Puerta del Sol] three years went by, and after three years the movement was effectively rather debilitated. Only then did we become convinced that it was time to move from the streets into the institutions. If we had done it earlier it wouldn’t have worked, because the indignation had to finish out its cycle. At that time, we read the political indications correctly and understood that it was the right moment to unleash an assault on the institutions.4 This version is confirmed by Jaime Pastor, also a political scientist, university professor and co-founder of Podemos: Podemos is the answer to the search for new political instruments on the part of ample groups of men and women following the climate of collective indignation that was generated starting with the eruption of the 15M Movement. Once it was determined that the 15M Movement had reached the limit of its capacity to break with the institutional block of the regime . . . a debate opened up about the need to construct an electoral instrument.5 Podemos comes into being on the threshold of the European elections of 2014 as a populist response “in the purest sense of the term” (Flesher Fominaya 2014: 6) to the crisis of representation in Spanish democracy. Initially, it presents the distinctive characteristics of a movement-party (Gunther and Diamond 2001) with a low intensity political organization, internal participation not regimented according to the logic of party activism, and an essentially horizontal decision-making process. It makes frequent use of the instruments of direct democracy through internal consultation, and is thus able to build a strong electoral base (Damiani 2015; Politikon 2015; Torreblanca 2015). The idea of working to create Podemos comes from some of the leaders of the 15M Movement, who, after November 2013 and the charlas sobre politica y sodiedad (discussions on politics and society) organized in the classrooms of the Complutense University, begin to plan a series of periodic meetings to be held in a small bookstore in Madrid. This working group gives itself the name of Promotora (Promoter). The idea, up to that time shared only by university professors and students, is very simple. Given the climate generated by the indignados’ demonstrations, organized seminars became open to everyone in order to reach a larger audience composed not only of students and activists (Domínguez and Giménez 2014). Based on these considerations, and given the positive outcome of the first public discussions, a group of intellectuals and public personalities sign a manifesto titled, Mover ficha: convertir la indignación en cambio politico (Make a move, convert our indignation into political change). Among the first signers of the manifesto are: Juan Carlos Monedero, already mentioned in the preceding pages;6 Jaime Pastor, he, too, already cited, Professor of Political Science at the National Distance Education University (NDEU) as well as a leader of Izquierda anti-capitalista (IA), a political party arising from a faction of Izquierda unida (IU); Bibiana

86  Ideal-typical populism Medialdea, Professor of Applied Economics at NDEU; the writer Santiago Alba Rico; union leader Cándido González Carnero; and the actor Alberto San Juan. On the impulse of Promotora, Podemos comes into being on an election ticket in the European elections scheduled for the following May, with a program explicitly opposed to the power elites and the austerity policies implemented in response to the indications of the troika (the term used to refer to the trio composed of the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank).7 With these expectations and a clear plan for economic, political, and cultural renewal, Podemos is presented officially to the public on 17 January 2014 at the Teatro del Barrio in Lavapiés, the historic multiethnic quarter of the Spanish capital. The careful planning of this political operation is evident in the reservation of the more than two hundred places in the theater exclusively for journalists, Spanish and foreign. Outside, in the open air, in front of a giant screen and under a battering rain, hundreds of people attended the event to show their support (Pucciarelli and Russo Spena 2014; Gilioli 2015). In describing the process that leads to the foundation of Podemos, Monedero clearly defines the profile of this political operation: [at the beginning of the 2000s] for the third time in a century, what was happening was something special, which had happened in Spain in the same way in 1931 and in 1975 in response to the crises of 1929 and 1973. What was happening, and what is still going on, is a dialogue between the middle classes and the popular classes, with the possibility of constructing a new historical bloc, and this historical bloc had to be constructed outside of existing reality, by stigmatizing existing reality. . . . Therefore, we come into being in this ventana de oportunidad (opportunity for political action) as a response to a profound crisis of the regime.8 In its first months of life, the most famous faces of Podemos are those of the abovementioned intellectuals and university professors, but also those of researchers, students and former students directly involved in the experience of the 15M Movement. Among the first activists and political leaders, the oldest are those coming from the traditional political parties, especially Izquierda unida (United Left) and Izquierda anti-capitalista, including Jaime Pastor. The latter decides to fuse with Podemos in January 2015.9 Regarding the party’s theoretical framework, in continuity with the reflections presented in the preceding chapters of the book, Pastor describes very effectively the original objective of Podemos: In the first place, the objective was to represent the political terrain of the indignation, the demand for real democracy, the denunciation of the state of crisis and the policy of budget cuts that was being implemented at the time. The objective, therefore, was, first of all, rejection of the policies of austerity, against a political regime in which the level of corruption was very high. What interested us was to say that we were not at the service of political leaders and bankers, the same people that were the objects of the protests led by the 15M Movement.10 With regard to its political structuring, Podemos is the product of a blending of two divergent approaches within its institutional bodies and its democratic

Ideal-typical populism  87 organization. On the one hand, Podemos comes into being and grows inside of large horizontal mobilizations, participatory, open, diversified and networked, both on streets and on the web. On the other hand, however, a process is set in motion to construct a vertical political organization endowed with hierarchical structures, unified, formalized and representative of its internal currents. The objective is to combine various democratic forms and expressions (both representative and decisional), increase the amount of grassroots participation and at the same time establish a coherent and effective strategy of public policies and institutional penetration (Kioupkiolis 2019). To accomplish this, the newly constituted movement-party moves on two levels. First, it shapes a creative version of the “politics of the common,” opening up political representation to “common people,” and its rhetoric and language take on a tone in conformity with “common sense,” around which it hopes to constitute social majorities, variously described with the terms “pueblo” (people), “gente” (persons), “ciudadania” (citizenry) and “patria” (homeland) (Iglesias 2014). On the political side, the ultimate goal is to achieve social inclusion and egalitarian democratic change. In the second place, however, since its foundation, the preponderant characteristic of Podemos, along with its participatory dimension, is the process of building a vertical internal power structure. Indeed, Podemos immediately outfits itself with a strong leadership, appointing Pablo Iglesias – el coleta (the tail), for his long ponytail – to head its political organization. Iglesias, at the time also a political scientist and university professor, is a singular figure, with a personal history as an outsider from traditional politics. Born and raised outside of the realm of political parties, he takes his first political steps inside the university classrooms and corridors as the student leader of the collective ContraPoder (CounterPower)11 and then in the movement of the indignados. In the early 2000s, Iglesias suddenly becomes well known to a broad national audience through his participation in a political news and analysis television program called La Tuerka, first carried by some web TV outlets, and then by the public.es., a website of a daily progressive newspaper close to the movement-party. Podemos displays, therefore, a rather complex structuring process. It is born out of the grassroots with the intention of representing the demands of the indignados. It initiates a process of horizontal participation but then demonstrates a desire to rely on the figure of the strong leader, who through the use of all the means, old and new, of mass communication, attempts to spread its political ideas and its political organization among the citizenry (Flesher Fominaya 2014; Sánchez 2014). When interviewed on this topic, Iniño Errejón openly states: the mass of those who are disappointed and dissatisfied, especially in this moment of crisis of neoliberalism, is extremely varied and involves very different characteristics, at times contradictory to each other. These characteristics coincide only with regard to a few aspects: the refusal of the existing order and the possibility of contemplating an immediate victor for the country’s regeneration and consistent with the interests of normal people. This feeling must necessarily be embodied in a symbol. This symbol is usually to be found in a leader, capable of representing this state of mind and this popular will for change. In this way, the leader no longer interprets the role of a normal person

88  Ideal-typical populism and becomes a true political banner, capable of representing the will of many people. Without these conditions the massive and rapid incursion of a previously inexistent political subject into the political system could not take place.12 In the course of its very early phase of development, in the effort to intercept a large electoral consensus, Iglesias and the main leaders of the movement identify their adversary as “the caste” of dominant power, constituted both by the political elite (represented to an equal degree and in the same way by the PP and the PSOE, which Podemos calls the “PPSOE”) and by the global financial elite (the party of Wall Street), incapable of finding alternatives to the recessionary measures of austerity, which in the first decade of the 2000s lead to extremely difficult economic straits for large swaths of the population (Barbieri 2015a, 2015b; Rodríguez-Aguilera de Prat 2015).13 In remembering that historical passage and the need to move beyond the contraposition right/left, Santiago Alba Rico makes a very significant statement: the memory of the left is not only very short winded, it is viewed negatively by most of the European population. And not only because of past errors, but also thanks to the manipulation by victorious capitalism. Obviously, this [the abandonment of the memory of the traditional left] is a risk, because it forces you to leave out the best parts of what you remember. For me, it took a very great effort to give up the hammer and sickle, the International, and all the music that still has the power to move me, but it is an emotion that most of the population does not share with me.14 In an effort to support his argument, the writer mentions a very significant personal memory: I remember something that happened to me in a small village, where I have a small summer home . . . and where we had established a Podemos club. Given the high expectations [for the club], lots of people came to the meetings, very simple people who were not politicized, young people. . . . The day after the inauguration of the club, I was at home writing and a young girl came up to the window. For a few days before [with the pretext of the inauguration of the club] Pablo Iglesias and I had been meeting in the house with other friends to discuss politics and we ended up having a few drinks accompanied by the music of a guitar, singing Bella Ciao, the International and songs from the Spanish Civil War, and this young girl who lived nearby heard it all. That day, the girl came to the window to tell me that those songs had upset her, because she felt rejected, because, she said: ‘I haven’t read the same books that you have read, I’ve never sung your songs, I’ve never waived your flags, but like you I know how to distinguish what is fair from what is not’. There you have it. Podemos is the answer to all that. What do we do with people that know how to distinguish justice from injustice, but who nevertheless don’t know the memory of the left? We can do die things: pretend there is nothing to worry about and carry on the way we always have – singing our songs, getting

Ideal-typical populism  89 emotional over our flags, but giving up on actively intervening in the world. Or, we can try to understand how to relate to these people. And starting from there, introduce a combination of actions . . . that allows us to shift the field of cultural hegemony towards projects and values that are part of a tradition that has nevertheless ceased to mobilize people.15 Based on these considerations, Podemos advances a proposal that moves in exactly the direction indicated by Santiago Alba Rico. It is an attempt to get outside the limits of 20th-century politics, to give up the classical instruments of political analysis and struggle, in order to constitute a new political subject that will interpret the contemporary demands of “the people”. The old class relationships having come apart at the seams, and with the typical conflict of modern society between capital and labor no longer at center stage, the experiment in Spain is to try to move beyond the known confines in order to construct a new supply of political ideas calibrated on post-ideological political dynamics. Nevertheless, beyond the differences with the past, the proposal advanced by Podemos takes its place in the same political space historically occupied by Izquierda unida. Unlike IU, however, and in common with the Latin American experiences (which Podemos had followed with keen interest), the movement-party led by Iglesias presents itself as a new force that intends to govern and indisposed to play the role of the institutional opposition. Moreover, unlike the old parties of the Spanish left, Podemos can claim to be exempt from any direct responsibility for the errors of the past and campaign as a newly-constituted movement representing the demands for renewal voiced by the indignados. In its first election campaign for the European elections of 2104, Podemos achieves an unexpectedly positive result, managing to take five seats in the Strasburg Parliament (see the following section). Its newly elected morados (purple) Euro-deputies decide to sit together with the deputies of the radical left in the GUE/NGL group. This signal of political change, sent directly by the voters to the national ruling class, is destined to intensify in the following months, decreeing the momentary suspension of Spanish bipartisanism and the advent of a limited pluralistic national political system, with Podemos joining the already-existing political forces: PP, PSOE and IU, not only. From 2004 to 2015, another political actor makes its entrance on the Spanish political scene, Ciudadanos (Citizens), founded in Catalonia ten years earlier, but now capable of replicating “from the right” the operation carried out by Podemos.16 After the unexpected success in the 2014 European elections, Podemos announces the convocation of the Asamblea ciudadana “Si, se puede” (Citizens’ Assembly “Yes, We Can”) for the purpose of giving itself a more formal and rigorous organization. In effect, this is its first party in congress. The work of the Assembly goes on for two months, from September to November 2014. Numerous meetings are held to respond to the question, “What is to be done?” and to define collectively the political platform, the organizational rules, and the composition of the leadership. On 15 November of that same year, at the Nuevo Apollo theater in Madrid, the final results of the on-line voting held on the Podemos portal are presented, with more than one hundred thousand votes of movement members tallied. The internal debate

90  Ideal-typical populism is centered on two proposals. The first, titled, Claro que Podemos, sponsored by Iglesias and his closest supporters, is the product for the most part of Complutense University. The second, titled, Sumando Podemos, promoted by Pablo Echenique, is supported mostly by movement members from Izquierda anti-capitalista. The proposal advanced by Iglesias and his faction wins nearly 90% of the vote. The results of the voting produce a party organization with a loose internal structure, a strong monocratic leadership and web activists flanking more traditional activists, organized in a more territorial way and connected to local political activities. This is the beginning of a new phase for Podemos, which grows stronger over the course of three important elections. The first are the local elections in May 2015. For these elections, the party governing bodies decide not to run under the party’s original name and symbol, leaving the door open to the formation of political alliances on the local level and open candidate lists capable of appealing to the majority of voters. The formula yields surprisingly positive results in Madrid and Barcelona, which – against the wishes of the PSOE and the PP – allow the election as mayor of Manuela Carmena (candidate of the list “Ahora Madrid” [Now Madrid]) and Ada Colau, candidate of “Barcelona en Comú”, or Barcelona in Common). Podemos, forming alliances with local groups, also does well in other important cities, including Zaragoza, La Coruña, and Cádiz. After its success in the local elections, Podemos consolidates its gains in the national elections held in December of the same year. On that occasion, the conflict between Podemos and Izquierda unida explodes (Timermans 2014; Rivero 2015). Indeed, Pablo Iglesias refuses the proposal advanced by Alberto Garzón for the two parties to form a political alliance.17 Podemos declines the offer of an alliance owing to its critical assessment of IU (considered a political force of the past, an alliance with which would have dulled the innovative potential of Podemos) and the desire to present itself on its own to get the true measure of its electoral weight.18 The December 2015 elections are an outright turning point in the history of Spain, ushering in a sort of “second transition” (after the one in the mid-1970s that had led Spain from fascism to democracy). Specifically, the crisis of the twoparty system is confirmed, with the PSOE and its newly elected secretary Pedro Sánchez in serious difficulty and the PP, led by Mariano Rajoy, who, although winning a relative majority of seats in parliament, is unable to form a government. The real winner of those elections is Podemos, which, in less than two years since its founding, becomes Spain’s third largest political party. Given Rajoy’s inability to form a government, Spain returns to the polls again in June 2016. This time, the PSOE again loses strength and Podemos turns in a good result without, however, attaining the hoped-for finish ahead of the socialists. In the following weeks, the alliance between the PP and Ciudadanos permits the formation of a coalition government, which will remain in office until June 2018 when, following the conviction of some leaders of the PP on corruption charges in the Gürtel case, another institutional crisis erupts. The conditions are created for a switch in the parliamentary majority with the opposition parties approving a constructive no confidence vote and the subsequent installation of the socialist government of Pedro Sánchez, supported externally by Podemos and Izquierda unida (and other minor parties). Nevertheless, this experience too is short-lived,

Ideal-typical populism  91 and the failure to pass a budget bill opens another crisis. Spain is forced to return to the polls yet again in April 2019 for the third time in less than four years. Meanwhile, Podemos develops internal difficulties. The dual leadership of Pablo Iglesias and Iñigo Errejón (the party’s number two) splits. The conflict, which dates back to the second party congress (Asamblea Ciudadanos) held in Madrid from December 2016 to February 2017, involves a difference in their analysis of the historical phase.19 Manolo Monereo, a member of the group closest to the national leader, describes what happened in the course of the second Citizen Assembly of Podemos: this assembly was a very difficult process, but what came out of it was a political force that was reinforced compared to the past. The Assembly produced a platform, a strategy, a political leadership, and a way of conceiving its organization. Understanding Podemos means understanding the process that it has within itself. . . . Podemos is a dynamic process, where very different people are constructing a social imagination, a program, a proposal, an organization.20 Inside Podemos, however, the part that considers Errejón its leader has a very different idea of the current historical phase and the project to be conferred on the political instrument. The internal conflict within Podemos thus becomes more and more bitter. According to Jorge Moruno, an intellectual very close to Errejón, the substantial difference between Iglesias and Errejón, is based on a different reading of the political moment: the Iglesias group asks us to hold fast, Errejón’s group wants to advance. And advancing means asking yourself why people who are not well off don’t vote for us. . . . We are missing whole segments of the electorate. We get very few votes from those who live in popular neighborhoods, women, adults, and residents of rural provinces. As long as we fail to reach these sectors, we will never be able to govern this country. Podemos was born with a clear vocation to govern and this can be satisfied . . . only by talking to people and entering into agreements with other parties, in a way that allows us to pull them over to a terrain where they don’t want to be . . . to put it in military terms, we have to change from a war of movement to a war of position. We have to identify the themes with which we can build a broader majority and use that as a base to construct our hegemony.21 The conflict between the two factions reaches a point of no return in 2019. The episode that leads to the break between Iglesias and Errejón comes about in the months leading up to the local elections and the ones for the renewal of the institutional bodies for the Community of Madrid. After winning Podemos’ internal primary, Errejón – already the candidate for the Presidency of the Region of the capital city with the consent of Iglesias (who, nevertheless, had dismissed him from the national secretariat) – decides to send an unequivocal signal to his faction by making an autonomous alliance with the Mayor of Madrid, Manuela Carmena, in view of the imminent municipal elections. The alliance is made outside of Podemos, with an electoral list that takes the name of “Más Madrid” (More

92  Ideal-typical populism Madrid). This choice, announced on 17 January 2019, exactly five years after the foundation of Podemos, puts the official stamp on the party’s internal split, which in the following days will lead to Errejón’s resignation from the governing bodies of his faction and from the parliamentary seat he had won in the past. Commenting on those facts and on the issues stemming from a strong political leadership, without inner checks and balances, according to Errejón: in populist phenomena a tension builds up between political adherence to the leader and the necessary counterbalances to be made. The very same characteristic that confers great force to populism, may at the same time threaten it considerably.22 Considering this fracture, and given the personal problems of Iglesias, who, in the meantime, (with Irene Montero, Podemos’ group leader in the Spanish Parliament) has fathered a couple of twins, and with the events that inflame Catalonia following the separatist referendum of 1 October 2017, Podemos faces a difficult election cycle, which includes at the same time administrative, national and European elections. The overall outcome will not be positive. First, in 2019, thanks to its internal divisions, Podemos reverses the big success recorded in the 2015 municipal elections, losing the government of many Spanish cities, including Madrid. After five years of governing the capital, in fact, Carmena loses to the candidate of the Popular Party. In Barcelona, on the other hand, after weeks of meetings and negotiations, Colau manages to reach an agreement with the Socialist Party of Catalonia (and other minor parties) that allows her to maintain her leadership of the government of the Catalonian capital. Nevertheless, Podemos’ overall performance in the municipal elections is negative, both politically and symbolically. The party’s break with Carmena, which cost her the election, is a big blow for Podemos. In Barcelona, meanwhile, Colau’s tormented confirmation as mayor deprives Podemos of the paternity of her second term. Furthermore, the overall negative result interrupts the political and media exposure that Podemos had managed to build in the preceding years, helping it to achieve, in Spain and abroad, the image of a winner, able to pursue, through the action of its local governments, the demands for political transformation announced in the proposals of its campaign platforms. That’s not all. In 2019, elections are scheduled for the autonomous community of Madrid. In this case, too, the results repeat what had happened in the capital city. Errejón decides to run as an independent, without the support of Podemos. His list wins twenty seats, the alliance of Podemos and Izquierda unida wins seven seats, but the government of the Community of Madrid goes to the parties of the right led by the Popular Party. With regard to the national elections, the results for Podemos are equally negative, relegating it to fourth place behind the PSOE, PP and Ciudadanos. This time, the real winner is the newly constituted Vox party, in the exact opposite place on the political spectrum from Podemos, representing the radical populist right. The results in the European elections of the same year are also negative, with Podemos suffering a big drop in both the number and percentage of votes. A more detailed analysis of the election results is presented in the following section. We will limit

Ideal-typical populism  93 ourselves here to underlining that this election cycle marks a significant setback for Podemos. In fact, in 2019, after its initial moment of political success and after the growth phase of the years following its foundation, Podemos has entered a new phase of its history that looks to be particularly difficult.

Results The first election test for Podemos coincides with the moment of its foundation. Four months after coming into being, the movement-party enters the European elections with the aim of representing the demands of the indignados. The choice proves to be successful as well as courageous and gives Podemos the chance to measure its electoral potential. Table 5.1 shows how the results went far beyond even its wildest expectations, with Podemos receiving more than one million votes, 1.8% of the total, and five seats in the Strasburg Parliament. It is in 2014, then, that Europe and the rest of the world begin to discover the existence of Podemos, which as an openly declared populist party modeled on examples from Latin America, launching an explicit challenge to the parties of the traditional left. The next year, 2015, is the year of its consecration. Apart from the extraordinary outcome achieved in the administrative elections of 24 May, Table 5.1  Electoral Trends (Podemos) National Elections

European Elections

Year

Party

Votes

%

Seats Year Party











2015

Podemos 5,212,711 20.7 69 (Alliance)* Podemos 3,198,584 12.7 42

– –









2016

Unidos 5,087,538 21.2 71 Podemos* (Podemos- 3,227,123 13.4 45 IU-Equo)**





















2019 (April)

Unidas Podemos* (PodemosIU-Equo)** 2019 Unidas (November) Podemos* (PodemosIU-Equo)**

3,751,145 14.3 42

Votes

%

Seats

2014 Podemos 1,245,948   8.0 5 –







2,897,419 11.6 33

2019 Unidas 2,252,378 10.1 6 Podemos – – – – –

3,119,364 12.8 35











2,381,960











9.8 26

Source: Ministry of the Interior.   * In the elections of 2015, 2016 and 2019, Podemos runs as part of a broader coalition, that includes minor regionalist parties. ** The result Podemos-IU-Equo (Equo is an environmentalist party) is the net result of those parties, not including the other parties in the unitary list.

94  Ideal-typical populism with the conquest (among other cities) of Madrid and Barcelona (see previous section), in the national elections of 20 December, Podemos gets more than five million votes, nearly 21% of the total, and wins sixty-nine seats in the Spanish Parliament. In this two-year period, Podemos becomes the model for other would-be left populist parties, despite it being difficult to imitate insofar as it is the product and unexpected outcome of a re-articulation of the party system in the midst of an economic and financial but also political and institutional crisis. The Spanish context does not guarantee the automatic reproduction of the same conditions in other national contexts. It is for this reason that, despite various attempts to imitate it (with the Portuguese one being the best known), Podemos remains a singular product of the Spanish political system in the early 2000s. After the national elections of 2015, Podemos enters its next phase, still riding the wave of enthusiasm. Emblematically, Iglesias arrives at the consultations with King Filippo VI, in violation of all the official protocols, with his hair (as always) arranged in a long ponytail and wearing shirt sleeves and jeans. This attire, considered far too audacious for the standards of Spanish ceremonial protocol, attracts some criticism for the leader of Podemos. For Iglesias, however, his dress on the occasion is a deliberate choice, which allows him to send his interlocutors a message of political continuity, bringing together in a single visual image Puerta del Sol and the Royal Palace. It is as though the leader of Podemos were interpreting, in that moment, his role as member and spokesperson of the indignados, representing the demands of the movement in the most symbolic palaces of Spanish politics. Nevertheless, because of the lack of agreement with the PSOE and the consequent inability to form a government, Spain is again called to the polls. The elections are set for 26 June 2016. For the occasion, Podemos presents itself as part of a coalition, this time accepting the proposal (rejected in the past) of Izquierda unida, Equo and some regionalist parties. Their electoral cartel takes the name of Unidos Podemos (Together We Can). The Unidos Podemos alliance achieves a result comparable to that recorded by Podemos on its own the year before (Table 5.1). This time, however, the Partito Popular finishes in first place and its leader, Mariano Rajoy, is appointed prime minister and head of government. The center-right executive remains in office until June 2018, when, following a corruption scandal involving some leaders of the PP, the parliament approves a no-confidence motion presented by Pedro Sánchez. This decrees the end of the center-right government and the installation of a new executive supported by (among others) the PSOE and Podemos. Nevertheless, the political stability that has characterized Spain in the course of its first phase of democracy seems to have run its course. Indeed, this government, too, will remain in office for just a few months, owing to the behavior of the Catalan regional parties, who, despite voting in favor of the no-confidence motion, decide not to vote in favor of the budget bill, Presupuestos, in retaliation for the government’s opposition to a referendum on independence for Catalonia. In April 2019, Spain returns to the polls once again. This time, too, a coalition of alternative left parties forms around Podemos under the name Unidas Podemos (preferring, with respect to 2016, the feminine conjugation). In continuity with its past positions, Podemos campaigns on its contention that the systemic crisis begun a decade earlier is still in progress and that it can be resolved only with the

Ideal-typical populism  95 construction of an alternative society founded on leftist values. This time, however, Podemos enters the campaign with much less enthusiasm than in the past. Weakened by internal divisions which have provoked the exodus of Iñigo Errejón and his supporters, its performance in the national elections, on the heels of its poor performance in the municipal elections earlier in the same year, is again rather disappointing. In three years, the alliance constructed around Podemos has lost almost a million and a half votes and twenty-nine parliamentary seats. The same dynamic represents itself in the European elections later in the year. Compared to its performance in the preceding European elections five years before, Podemos doubles its number of votes but halves the number of votes it received in the national elections of 2015 and 2016 (Table 5.1). This produces an institutional impasse. The PSOE and Podemos can’t manage to reach an agreement and new elections will be needed, in November 2019, in order to try to constitute a government formed by the two forces of the Spanish left. In order to explain the reasons of the failure to reach a political agreement, according to Pablo Iglesias: in the end, Podemos and the PSOE didn’t reach an agreement to form a government because at the time the PSOE did not have the will to form a coalition government with Unidas Podemos. The socialist party was moving along the lines of European social democracy and was more interested in reaching an agreement with Ciudadanos for the construction of a sort of little “Grosse Koalition” (Grand Coalition) with a party born for the purpose of propping up the Popular Party but that could also be utilized to provide support for the PSOE, as a representative of liberal principles. The second time that the PSOE and Unidas Podemos tried to reach an accord for the formation of a coalition government, the PSOE did not want to take into consideration our program nor an agreement on the ministries that would be held by Unidas Podemos. During the negotiation, the PSOE decided to break off the talks and call for new elections. The outcome of the 2019 elections was not the one the PSOE hoped to see: the socialists lost votes, Ciudadanos suffered a terrible defeat and Unidas Podemos, though losing some votes, managed to elect a number of delegates that was essential to the formation of a coalition government. This result opened the way for the formation of a new government, this time with a real and serious negotiation.23 In the elections of November 2019 Podemos does not reach a good result. From the political point of view, difficulties are due to two fundamental issues. The first is the erosion of its electoral base. After the stimulus of mass indignation, a large part of voters on the left go back to voting for the PSOE, relegating Podemos to a minority position. The second factor is the formation of a growing political space occupied by the populist right, with Ciudadanos getting votes from the middle classes and Vox reaping wide consensus in España vacia (Empty Spain), the thinly populated rural areas disoriented by the ongoing processes of globalization. Five years from its foundation, in a radically different political framework, Podemos has run into substantial political and electoral difficulties.

96  Ideal-typical populism Nevertheless, after a short institutional experience, in a time of electoral crisis Spanish populist radical Left shows to be able to govern the Country through the alliance with the PSOE. During the interview, Podemos’ leader tries to explain the main goals of the “government of change” of its movement-party: within the framework of the European Union the possibilities for structural economic change are narrow even when you have a government majority. From the Greek experience we realized that winning elections and reaching positions of power is not enough to obtain the assurance of success and change. A government of change can begin only after an adequate interpretation of power relationships. The Stability and Growth Pact and the positions of France and Germany make it very difficult to get free of austerity policies. Nevertheless, a country like Spain can exert pressure for the approval of expansive economic measures. Both Germany and France have violated the Stability and Growth Pact when they decided it was convenient to do so. The international organizations have agreed that austerity policies are an obstacle to economic recovery. A government of change must be able to increase social spending and redistribute income to reduce inequality, by reinforcing its capacity to impose and collect taxes that weigh more heavily on higher incomes and combatting tax evasion by large corporations (especially the internet and info tech giants). A government of change has to confront the great European challenges in an emancipatory way, confronting without any order of importance, climate change, the robotization of the economy, the aging of the population, migration, and the gender inequality and discrimination.24 Starting from these assumptions, it will be important to continue to observe the evolution of Podemos in the next years. It will be interesting to analyze its main political transformations and its long-term results. Indeed, observing other examples of PRLPs in Western Europe, after a positive beginning, the experience at the highest levels of national institutions was negative. After the Spanish case, in the next chapter we will deal with the Greek case of Syriza and with the difficulties that it met at the government level.

Notes   1 This quote is translated from the Spanish.   2 Interview with Juan Carlos Monedero, 23 February 2017.   3 Ibid.   4 Ibid.   5 Interview with Jaime Pastor, 21 February 2017.   6 Monedero, former member of the staff of Lamazares during his time as secretary of Izquierda unida (the Spanish radical left party: see Ramiro Fernández 2004; Damiani 2013) and political consultant to Hugo Chavez (President of Venezuela from 1999 to 2013), though he does not have a formal role in Podemos, has been one of its most popular leaders since its beginning.   7 In those years, the criticism leveled at the troika regarded its choices in economic and financial policy aimed at passing and implementing in EU member states a series of

Ideal-typical populism  97 measures to maintain budgetary stability through the implementation of neoliberalist economic policies that included large cuts in spending for public welfare programs.   8 Interview with Juan Carlos Monedero, 23 February 2017.   9 The account of Jaime Pastor highlights the founding role of Izquierda anticapitalist in the formation of Podemos: “thanks to the intelligence and the ability of the communications group that represented Pablo Iglesias and the group from Izquierda anticapitalist, among whom there was an excellent relationship of friendship and cooperation, it was possible to launch the initiative, taking advantage of the European elections that were the best occasion for launching a new political force, because they are the elections in which the vote of the large traditional parties has less weight. The objective of Podemos was to destabilize the political system and to appear not as representing the 15M Movement but as an institutional spokesman for the demands and the political indignation that the movement had expressed” (Interview with Jaime Pastor, 21 February 2017). 10 Interview with Jaime Pastor, 21 February, 2017. 11 In the course of his university career, Iglesias conducts research in preparation of his doctoral dissertation on the Italian movement of the “Disobbedienti” (the Disobedient), that was part of the no-global political movement in the early 2000s (Iglesias 2011). 12 Interview with Iniño Errejón, 6 September 2019. Continuing to reflect on the process of leadership-building inside Podemos, according to Errejón: “[without a process of leadership-building], the rapid process of political accumulation that we witnessed in Spain does not take place. It does not make sense to discuss about Podemos criticizing the Jacobean, Caesarean and, in a certain sense, plebiscitary decisions made when Podemos was first established. This certainly has a political significance, but without those decisions one would not have reached five million votes from one day to the other. One year earlier you do not exist at all and then, you suddenly rise up in the political system” (Interview with Iniño Errejón, 6 September 2019). 13 Subsequently, in the language of Iglesias and the main leaders of Podemos, the term “casta” (caste) will be replaced by the term “trama” (plot), evoking an entire social system founded on the maintenance of power inequality and corruption (García Augustín and Briziarelli 2018; Briziarelli 2018). 14 Interview with Santiago Alba Rico, 26 February 2017. 15 Ibid. 16 Ciudadanos, led by a young lawyer, Alberto Rivera, presents itself as a sort of liberal movement, expressing, like Podemos, strong criticisms of the professional politicians in the traditional national parties, and thus articulating a typically populist political rhetoric (Campabadal and Miralles 2015, de Paco and Ellakuria 2015). 17 At the time, Alberto Garzón was a young leader of IU, an ex-15M activist from Andelusia, elected to Parliament in 2011. In the following months he will be elected federal coordinator of IU. 18 El Pais, 24 June 2015. 19 The second Citizen Assembly, the second party congress of Podemos, concludes with a victory for Iglesias over Errejón, whose expulsion from the secretariat for political analysis and strategy helps to increase the friction between the two internal currents. 20 Interview with Manolo Monereo, 14 February 2017. In describing Podemos, Monereo also highlights its peculiarities and characteristics that, in his view, distinguish it from the PSOE: “Podemos is a radical democratic program, substantial democracy, Republican democracy, social democratic. It is a very open program, dynamic, that constructs itself day by day. . . . Podemos is a profoundly democratic movement. . . . that demands the freedom of democracy, the depth of democracy, a democratic regime, capable of protecting civil rights and social rights” (interview with Manolo Menereo, 14 February 2017). 21 Interview with Jorge Moruno, 20 February 2017. 22 Interview with Iniño Errejón, 6 September 2019. 23 Interview with Pablo Iglesias, 19 December 2019. 24 Interview with Pablo Iglesias, 19 December 2019.

6

Populism of government

Preview The Greek case of the radical populist left originates in a grave economic crisis that has dramatic political repercussions (Pappas 2014). Officially, it all begins in the fall of 2009 when prime minister George Papandreou (leader of Pasok, the Panhellinic Socialist Movement) reveals publicly that economic balance sheets sent to the European Union by the previous governments (at the time led by the centerright party Nea Dimokratia, New Democracy) had been falsified for the purpose of reassuring the EU about the country’s economic stability. The announcement gives rise to fears among investors of a sovereign debt crisis, which leads to a collapse of confidence on the part of the financial markets, marked by a spike in interest rates on the debt and a sharp increase in the cost of insurance against credit default risk for the other European countries, especially Germany. The numbers of the Greek crisis are striking. In 2008, the ratio of debt to GDP stood at 109.4%. In 2009, it shoots up to 126.7%. In 2010, it reaches 146.2%, and in 2011 it surges past 172%, to then keep on growing.1 The economic and fiscal situation gets out of control in those years because the national economy is not able to support such a high public debt without resorting to foreign loans. In the spring of 2010, Greece flirts with bankruptcy, which, in turn, threatens to set off a new financial crisis. To stave off this possibility, the main components of international financial governance (the International monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission) devise a salvage plan consisting of more than €240 billion (Nelson et al. 2017). These maneuvers are repeated, in varying amounts, in 2012 and 2015. Naturally, this option provides for the acceptance without reservations of specific conditions. The Greek government is required by its international creditors to implement an extremely rigorous economic and fiscal policy, which imposes drastic reductions in public spending and substantial increases in taxes and duties. The loan infusions ae intended to buy time so that the country can stabilize its own finances and calm market fears of a possible exit from participation in the euro. The new international framework forces Athens to make structural changes in its economic policy. Indeed, notwithstanding the assistance programs, the country’s economic problems do not go away. The percentage of GDP growth continues to be negative

Populism of government  99 with numbers in the double figures that in 2009 reach -15.1%.2 Socially, the prospect is an outright humanitarian emergency. In 2011, the number of people at risk of poverty and social exclusion rises to more than 30%. The unemployment rate rises dramatically, going from 7.8% in 2008 to 12.7% in 2010, and then surging to 17.9% in 2011, 24.5% in 2012, and 27.5% in 2013.3 In just two years, from 2010 to 2012, unemployment doubles, comprising the organization of their private lives for a large segment of the active population.4 Specifically, unemployment among young people between the ages of 15 and 24 climbs from 22.5 % in 2008 to 52% in 2012.5 All of this is exacerbated by a significant increase in precarious and flexible jobs, which adds problems to problems (Karamanis and Hyz 2014). And there is still more. In those same years, the birth rate shrinks at the average annual rate of 3.9% while the infant mortality rate rises by 26%, a clear sign that the cuts in health care and social assistance programs have exacted a very high price among the population (Filipeos 2017). With regard to housing policy, between 2009 and 2010, the number of homeless increases from eleven thousand, to seventeen to twenty thousand.6 Moreover, theft of electrical energy almost triples, going from 1,082 cases in 2008 to 2,992 cases in 2010.7 All things considered, the situation is tantamount to wartime conditions. There are no armies deployed against each other on the streets of Greece, but the population is nonetheless subjected to an economic bombardment that brings about a collective impoverishment surpassing every level of alarm. Such conditions cannot help but create a hypercritical public opinion, inclined to fix the blame for such difficulties on two actors in particular. In the first place, the national political class, right and left, led the country to the brink of bankruptcy. In the second place, all the member organizations of international governance, in the face of ongoing economic difficulties, imposed the implementation of (de facto recessive) austerity policies with the result of worsening the already critical situation at the start. The consequence is the manifestation of substantial negative social effects that bring the country to its knees, producing, in turn, conditions of extreme precariousness among a large swath of the citizenry, who, regardless of their own social condition ex ante, now share in the negative effects of the ongoing situation. In this context, a spontaneous network of mutual aid is created, aimed at providing concrete assistance to the hardest-hit sectors of the population. The first concern is health care, decimated by the policy of spending cuts. Demonstrations and strikes by doctors and hospital personnel are matched by mutual assistance activities in which doctors, nurses and health care professionals start self-managed private clinics that aim to fill the gap left by the public health care system by providing free services in every field of medicine and dentistry. In these clinics and in neighborhoods in cities throughout Greece people discuss how to manage and organize the constellation of new autonomous and independent health-care structures necessary to meet the needs of the population devastated by the crisis. This experience, strategic in itself, soon expands into other social service sectors. Following similar operating procedures and pursuing similar purposes, a substantial network of social solidarity is constituted, moving in to occupy nearly every social space abandoned by the public system. Mutual aid experiences involve

100  Populism of government small farmers and cattle raisers who convoy food to be distributed to people in need; electricians, who reconnect, illegally, electric cables, restoring power to families whose power has been disconnected because of unpaid bills; automobile drivers, who force open the toll barriers at highway entrances and exits; cooks, who open up self-run soup kitchens; neighbors who jam courtrooms to block eviction orders for non-payment of rent (Massarelli 2013). In these dire straits, what starts to happen is the coming together of the poorest segments of the population and the middle classes, impoverished by the crisis. People of all ages – young people, adults and the elderly – and workers whose contracts are increasingly precarious, public employees whose salaries have been cut drastically, third-sector workers penalized by reforms, migrants in steadily worsening conditions, artisans and small business owners forced to close down and/or fire their employees, the growing legion of the unemployed, students, teachers and professors, and professionals with no market for their skills, unite against the ugly face of outside adversity. In the years of the crisis, something new happens in Greece. The people, without regard to gender, religion, age, social background, education or occupation unite in a single social bloc to try to confront collectively the newly arrived adverse conditions. The universities become places to organize assemblies and public debates. Social centers and occupied spaces are transformed into meeting halls where the collective reaction is organized into networks. A fabric of solidarity is created, woven by the ever-growing numbers of people brought together by desperation. The “people” (all together) oppose the policies of austerity, which in that moment are leading the country into a condition of extreme indigence. It is a powerful spontaneous movement that involves the entire society and that, for at least three years, from 2008 to 2011, expresses its opposition to governmental establishment, national and international, by way of mass demonstrations, protests, mobilizations and strikes. After the initial phase, rather than assembling in front of the various individual ministries, the demonstrations are addressed directly to Parliament in protest against the country’s highest representative institutions, now considered hostile to the people. The longest period of public protest comes in the summer of 2011, with the prolonged occupation of Syntagma (Constitution) Square in Athens. In the same weeks of the contestations in Puerta del Sol in Madrid, organized by the Spanish indignados’ movement, Greece witnesses a similar scene. It is as though the two countries were experiencing a peoples’ merger, with mass movements motivated by the same causes, the same demands, the same slogans and represented by the same kinds of people. In Athens, as in Madrid, the outcry rising up from the public squares is directly against the governing elite in disapproval of the actions of the elected office holders and expressing the desire to replace them with a new generation of political leadership. The occupation of Syntagma Square represents the breakup of a political community and the fracturing of the social contract between the governors and the governed, setting off a process that would shortly lead to important political transformations. On 12 February 2012, in response to yet another austerity measure approved by Parliament in compensation for €130 billion in international aid, the people of Syntagma Square come together

Populism of government  101 again in what will be remembered as one of the largest demonstrations in the history of modern Greece (Massarelli 2013). Hundreds of thousands of people pour into the streets to demonstrate their indignation and give visible expression to the distance between the people and the elites. Syntagma Square becomes the crucible for experiences, aspirations, demands, needs, and interests advanced by various segments of the population, which, in the framework of the crisis, become a united collective subject. The demonstrators are a new people and the promoter of a concrete demand, asking for the end of the political system that, up to that moment, had administered Greek democracy. This is the beginning of the battle for the constitution of a new ruling class to replace the ruling class of the past. At a distance of some three years from the first demonstrations, the prolonged pursuit of those struggles becomes the fundamental condition that sets the stage for the political changes of the ensuing years in accordance and in continuity with the political platforms advanced in the course of the protests in the public squares.

Framework The cycle of protest in Greece from 2009 to 2012 solicits the organization of a political platform able to being together and represent the demands of the people constituted in struggle. The objective is to replace the current governing class and, with it, the economic policy decisions adopted up to that time (Ovenden 2015). Like Spain, the Greek case is a singular experience that, in the wake of the antiausterity protest demonstrations, creates one of the best-known and original PRLPs in Western Europe. In the following pages we will go deeper into the peculiarities of the Greek case. For the time being, we will limit ourselves to underlining how, after a decade of political activity performed as a minority party in the Hellenic political system, and without any government experience, Syriza (Coalition of the Radical Left) suddenly becomes the privileged interlocutor of the people united in the public squares, as well as Greece’s institutional center of gravity. The process that leads to the foundation of Syriza begins with the constitution of the so-called Space for Dialogue for the Unity and Common Action of the Left. This is a political platform constituted in 2001 by numerous organizations on the left, which, despite their diverse senses of identity and cultural backgrounds, share a common analysis of important national and international issues, which form the core of Greek national interests and the country’s public debate. The most important issues around which there is a convergence on the left are the much-maligned privatizations, the extension of social and civil rights and the extenuating quest for peace after the dramatic experience of the war in Kosovo, fought between 1996 and 1999 just a few kilometers from the Greek border. The Space for Dialogue develops a systematic practice of meetings and discussion, managing to find points of agreement also with respect to criticism of the reform of the pension system then in progress and the preparation of demonstrations to be held during the G8 summit meeting in Genoa, Italy, in 2001. Operating in this way, the Space for Dialogue lays a common groundwork capable of creating the conditions necessary for the constitution of a unified political subject (Katsourides 2016).

102  Populism of government Conceived in the Space for Dialogue, Syriza is formally constituted in January 2004 on the initiative of the Space for Dialogue’s most representative members, who decide to develop a common political project to be put to its first test in that year’s parliamentary election. Syriza presents itself as a political coalition of the radical left, capable of articulating an organizational model that brings together a number of parties, social movements, associations, and independent activists situated to the left of the largest Hellenic left party (Pasok). Though it is a participant in the Space for Dialogue, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE, in Greek: Kommunistik Komma Elladas) decides not to enter the newborn coalition. On the other hand, however, along with its many other political components, the coalition includes the historic Synaspismós (Coalition of Left Environmental Movements), which constitutes the most important member of the coalition in electoral and organizational terms.8 Despite the preparatory work, the public debut of Syriza is not painless, being marked by internal and external tensions and reshufflings all the way to the end of the process and the establishment of the final version of the coalition (Mpalafas 2012; Spourdalakis 2013, 2014; Tsakatika and Eleftheriou 2013; Damiani 2018a). The project for the constitution of Syriza is reinforced during the fourth European Social Forum, held in Athens in May 2006. On that occasion, the Greek Coalition of the Radical Left assumes the role of the central political actor for the entire No Global movement. The vast participation in the forum and its international echo give Syriza the chance to reinforce its internal and external relationships. This success is compounded by the positive results achieved in the Greek administrative elections that same year, when the coalition’s list of candidates for the City of Athens, led by a then very young Alexis Tsipras, receives more than 10% of the vote, revealing the existence of a potential political open field to the left of Pasok. In the ensuing years, Syriza continues to grow. An important turning point comes in 2007. Following the encouraging outcome of that year’s Parliamentary elections, Alekos Alavanos decides not to run again for the presidency of the coalition in favor of the candidacy of Tsipras, who is elected in February 2008 with the consensus of a large part of the internal political organization. In the following years, though always with modest numbers and percentages and reduced proportions compared to the main parties of the national political system, the Coalition of the Radical Left enjoys constant growth, achieving significant results in all of the electoral competitions held between 2008 and 2011 (for an analysis of the electoral results, see the next section). These are the years marked by the events in Syntagma Square recalled in the previous section, when the anti-austerity movement is looking for a credible interlocutor outside of institutional bipartisanism and capable of constructing a political platform representative of the demands arising from the people. It is in this moment that the bond is formed between the movement on the streets and Syriza, the Coalition of the Radical Left. Exempt from governmental responsibilities, Syriza campaigns on its promise to bring the reasons behind the protest into the palaces of power with the intention of taking back the popular sovereignty that had been lost in the name of institutional

Populism of government  103 governance and thus to change the direction of the country’s economic policies. This belief is very strong in the key informants interviewed in the field: the party’s main strategy is to defend the weak, the precarious, those living in uncertainty and with low incomes or pensions. . . . We claim a rightful and sustainable development for the many and not for the few, for the social majority that has been hit by the crisis. For this reason, SYRIZA addresses all the productive forces of the country, workers, women, young people, small and medium-sized companies and tradesmen, maintaining that wealth should be distributed to all in a fairer way, and especially to those who have lost out during the crisis.9 The year of the turning point is 2012. Supported by the force of the battles on the streets and the cries of desperation of the people in Syntagma Square, in the 2012 Parliamentary elections Syriza finishes second, with a million votes more than Pasok, crushed by the crisis of the Great Recession and only two hundred thousand votes less than Nea Dimokratia. (ND), and the center right still manages to form a wide coalition government thanks in part to the votes of the socialists. After this election, the Coalition of the Radical Left starts thinking seriously that it can compete successfully as a potential leader of the government. At the party congress organized in May of that year, at the request of Alexis Tsipras, Syriza decides to change its skin, leave behind the large electoral coalition and become a single united party by unifying all of its internal components. All of this is planned and implemented in the hope of obtaining the majority premium of fifty parliamentary seats that the Greek election law awards to the party winning the most votes in the Parliamentary elections. The general rehearsal for the assault on the government palace is set for the European elections of 2014, when, propelled by the events in Syntagma Square, Syriza becomes the first party on the national level. Its final consecration comes in the Parliamentary elections of January 2015, when the Coalition of the Radical Left wins a plurality of the Parliamentary seats (Katsambekis 2016). With help from the small anti-Europe party (ANEL), which adds its two seats to enable Syriza to reach an absolute majority, the Coalition of the Radical Left is able to form its first government (Aslanidis and Rovira Kaltwasser 2016). On 26 January, Alexis Tsipras is sworn as prime minister before the President of the Republic presents his cabinet and takes office as head of the government. According to Theano Fotiou, Vice-Minister of Social Solidarity, the aim of the party was really clear: When we came to government in January 2015, I myself, in particular, at the Ministry of Work and Social Solidarity, knew that we had to immediately face the immediate needs of the citizens that had been hit by the ‘humanitarian crisis’ and had suffered from five years of the Memorandum. . . . We began by moving the government’s actions for the treatment of vulnerable groups to treatment of the whole population, children and minors, the elderlies and the disabled.10

104  Populism of government In the face of the collapse of the two historical parties of Hellenic bipartisanism, the governmental transition takes place within the established institutional system. In any event, it would have been hard to imagine (though not impossible in that moment) a solution outside of the “democratic area.” In Greece, since the end of the “dictatorship of the colonels” (1967–1974), the “democratic area” functions as a cordon sanitaire to quarantine outside of the terrain of government all “antisystem parties” (Sartori 1976) that might threaten the stability of the country’s democratic institutions. It is within this area that the Syriza is able to impose its political-electoral primacy, showing itself in that moment to be well prepared for the institutional leap that is has finally been called to make. While defending its position as a “pro-system” party, Syriza articulates its political proposal based on its anti-establishment identity, with the intention of making a frontal attack on the political classes of right and left, considered equally responsible for the negative results of the recessive economic policies. Claiming the inheritance of the battles of Syntagma Square, the initial ambition and intention of Syriza, and of Alexis Tsipras himself, are to implement an expansive economic policy based on increased public spending and the defense and reinforcement of the welfare state. The objective is to pull the country out of the conditions of extreme economic and social hardship, stimulate consumer spending, reactivate the production cycle and, in this way, enact effective measures to combat the growing domestic unemployment. In this regard, according to Danai Koltsida, Director of the “Nicos Poulantzas” Institute and member of the Central Committee of the party: even before becoming the ruling party, Syriza set its aim as exiting the Memorandum and keeping alive both society and the people.11 The political rise of Syriza marks a decisive turning point in Greece and in Europe (Katsambekis 2019). The objective is to demonstrate that an alternative to neoliberalist economic policies is possible. Nevertheless, it is precisely at the moment in which the Coalition of the Radical Left manages to create the conditions for pursuing its objective that the most serious problems come to the fore. The thorniest question that must be faced is the relationship with the country’s creditors and the main players in international financial governance. A long period of extenuating negotiations begins and continues after the government’s victory in the July 2015 referendum in which it appeals to the people for a formal show of support for its position at the negotiating table. The explicit objective is to put a stop to the austerity policies, which had taken the country to the brink of default, so as to implement a stimulus package to finance public spending and refinance the welfare state and public services of general interest. In the course of the negotiation, Tsipras loses the battle but decides anyway not to give up and to make a pact with the creditors to avoid the incalculable political, economic and social risks for the country in the absence of an agreement. It is in this period that talk begins to spread of a possible “Grexit,” or Greece’s exit from the single European currency, with completely unpredictable consequences (Mudde 2017). To avoid this risk, Tsipras has just one choice: to accept sic et simpliciter (so and simply) the “memorandum”

Populism of government  105 that the principle interpreters of international governance imposed on the Greek government by way of “blood, sweat and tears” measures in clear contrast with the outcome of the consultative referendum and with the expectations and promises openly declared during the election campaign.12 This phase of Greek history coincides with a drastic constriction of the political sovereignty of the government democratically elected by the citizens of Greece (in this case, the external international pressure exercised over the autonomous decision-making power of the Greek prime minister). This is followed by a very difficult period for the Coalition of the Radical Left, marked by two fundamental passages. The first is the split with the more radical wing of the party, which after the referendum decides to form a new political party called Popular Unity. Also leaving the party at that time is Yanis Varoufakis, the former Finance Minister, who, however, does not join another political party. Several months later he will play a leading role in the formation of a pan-European formation called the Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 (DiEM25). The second passage comes with the fall of the government. Indeed, given the extremely difficult conditions, Tsipras delivers his resignation from the Office of Prime Minister and leads the country toward new elections. In September 2015, demonstrating that it still enjoys widespread popularity, Syriza wins the elections for the second time in a row and installs its second national government. From that moment on, its political and institutional activity is concentrated substantially on economic issues with some modest results and just as many problems unresolved. Yiannis Bournous, interviewed some years later, in January 2019, states that: after the defeat and the forced compromise of 2015, the main goal was 3-fold: a) complete successfully the Bailout program i.e. making sure that it would be the last one, ending austerity and gaining access to bond markets: b) avoid, wherever was possible, its hardest aspects; c) pursue a parallel program that healed austerity’s consequences upon society. The catchphrase was: Leading the country out of the crisis with society standing on its feet. . . . The bailout program had some (intended) ambiguities that left room for reinterpretation and renegotiation that led to milder implementation of certain reforms regarding pensions and deregulation. There were also a few anti-neoliberal reforms that passed under the radar of the Troika. . . . Secondary goal that is gradually achieved: to change the structure of the Welfare State towards universalism, to undermine the powerbase of the establishment clientelist power, for example with the abolishment of public services subcontractors or the digitalization of welfare procedures, to eliminate the margin of personal/political interventions, or with proportional representation at local elections.13 From an accounting perspective, after four years of governing and significant sacrifices asked of the Greek people, the results are certainly not all negative. Although it shrank by 28% during the darkest years of the economic and financial crisis, in 2017 Greece’s GDP grows by 1.4% and continues to grow in the first quarter of 2018 by 2.3%. The public finances also return to positive territory.

106  Populism of government While in 2009, the year the crisis exploded, the deficit/GDP ratio stood at -15.1%, in 2017, the Greek budget closes with a surplus of 0.8% of GDP and a primary surplus of (excluding interest on the debt) of 3.7%. Even the real economy begins to grow again. Increased tourism is the biggest positive factor but exports turn in good results (+10% in 2018) as does industrial production (+6.7% through April 2018). Foreign investment also starts to trend positive. Nevertheless, ten years after the crisis, Greece still cannot call itself a “healthy” country. Even though the situation has improved in the three years from 2015– 2017, the recovery has not been strong enough to create jobs. In 2018, the unemployment rate is stuck at 20.1%, still double the 10% recorded in 2008. Moreover, the improvement in the public finances is not sufficient to diminish the debt, which between 2017 and 2018 remains around 190% of GDP. More evidence of the persistent difficulties of the citizenry comes from the percentage (46.5%) of non-performing bank loans, weighed down by unpaid installments. The overdose of austerity imposed by the international governance institutions has decimated family finances. From 2008 to 2018, the buying power of Greeks fell by 28.3%. Families living in extreme poverty amount to 21% of the total, double the figure for 2010. The amount of pension benefits (cut considerably since the beginning of the crisis) has dropped an average of 14%. The public sector has lost two hundred thousand jobs in eight years. Within the cramped confines to which he has been consigned by Greece’s creditors, Tsipras, in an attempt to remain faithful to his campaign promises, has tried to do what is possible. The budget surplus beyond the level agreed upon has been redistributed to the neediest families. Two million people have been enrolled in the health insurance system. Some 5.8% of the population benefits from solidarity income payments.14 Indeed, by virtue of the results achieved following the harsh reform program imposed from on high, on 20 August 2018 Greece manages to get out from under the plan of international aid and its controlled economy, thus recovering in part the ability to make autonomous choices. It remains true, however, that its creditors continue their constant monitoring of Greece’s economic data in order to keep (from their point of view) their agreement from going off the rails. In this regard, the leaders of the party tend to highlight, together with the difficulties, also the results that, from their standpoint, Tsipras’s government was able to reach: Syriza did not enforce its own programme. It was a programme that emerged from an agreement with the creditors, and by applying this difficult Memorandum we managed to pull the country out of its crisis, creating the conditions for the survival of a thoroughly exhausted society. Syriza brought the country back on the road of growth and re-launched production, export and hope.15 Moreover: we could now state that that aim has been achieved notwithstanding the difficulties, the compromises and the policies that Syriza had to make

Populism of government  107 throughout its years of government. Although Syriza has been forced to enact a programme of austerity, the fact that it has sustained the weaker social strata has led to a notable improvement in the Greek economy.16 People understood that we have been loyal to what we promised in September 2015, when we said that, once at the government, we would have exited the Memorandum and kept alive the country, its society and the people. . . . We have fought to protect the weak and to diminish inequality in extremely difficult conditions.17 Despite the optimism, in this climate of difficulties, with both favorable and critical economic indicators, after four years of Tsipras’s rule the 2019 European elections are held, and Syriza turns in a less-than-stellar performance. The party suffers substantial losses, especially compared with the numbers it recorded in the national political elections four years earlier (see following section). The negative performance of the Greek Coalition of the Radical Left is explained by two fundamental causes, one internal and one tied to international politics. As regards the first question, the Tsipras government is hampered by the deficit of political sovereignty resulting from the imposition of the “memorandum” through which de facto the institutions of international governance require the prime minister (under pain of default) to approve all the measures indicated from on high. The second cause of the election difficulties is the “Macedonia issue” and, more precisely, the choice to recognize the Republic of North Macedonia. The changes in the institutional equilibrium of that area, the confusion and the division created with the historical Greek province of Macedonia inflame the negative reaction of the more nationalistic voters and penalize the imagined and the electoral fortunes of Syriza. In this regard, the former Foreign Minister of Tsipras’s government openly declared: Syriza has been the protagonist of a very active foreign policy. We did not wish to let some problems remain unresolved as they were used to doing in the past. [Regarding Macedonia] for three decades we were engaged in a harsh conflict . . . which could have been resolved already in the ’90’s if the conservative party had not stuck to its line of closure. . . . Between the two sides [Greek and Macedonian] a nationalist and extremist rhetoric did not allow for a peaceful settlement through negotiation. These nationalisms self-fostered themselves and increased. . . . For us it was clear that any solution for the name of North Macedonia had to be based on the values of cooperation and friendship between our populations, without leaving shadows of irredentism for the future. Luckily, on the other side we found a government that was looking for a definitive solution to solve the existing issues once and for all.18 After the elections, Tsipras decides yet again to deliver his resignation as prime minister and send the citizens back to the polls. His objective is to ask the people for a vote of confidence, confirming their approval of his policies, or (vice-versa) to deny him confidence and remove him from government. Elections are held on 7 July 2019 and Syriza loses the challenge and is forced to leave the leadership of

108  Populism of government the government. Notwithstanding the defeat, however, the political analysis of the vote is not completely negative: Syriza lost the elections and its place in the government but given the support it obtained in the July 2019 political elections, it emerged as the strongest party of the European Left and one of the three or four major progressive parties in the European Union. In the GUE/NGL group and in the European Left Party SYZIRA is considered one of the most important cornerstones. . . . We would like SYZIRA to become a political reference point for the creation of a wider progressive alliance and a progressive front with common aims and programmes at the European level. Notwithstanding the electoral defeat, the Syriza phenomenon has imposed itself in the national political scenario, not to disappear but to remain in the political reality of Greece and Europe with a strong social and political representation.19 This turn of events is certainly a defeat for Syriza, but it does not amount to a political debacle. The party’s continued viability is confirmed by two things. First, Syriza has shown itself to be a political force capable of occupying a permanent place within the national institutional system. With nearly a third of the electorate, the Coalition of the Radical Left constitutes one of the two parts of Greek bipartisanism, eliminating the possibility that Pasok (running as part of a coalition that receives only 8.1% of the vote) will go back to being the majority party of the Hellenic left. Furthermore, its opposition to a government led by the party that (together with the socialists) brought Greece to the brink of bankruptcy in the years of the economic and financial crisis of the Great Recession could help relaunch Syriza, creating the conditions for its renewed electoral hegemony. Certainly, for Tsipras, it is the beginning of a new season. On the one hand, he is forced to interrupt his leadership of the government, but on the other he can go back to organizing a strong parliamentary opposition and use it to reconnect the demands of the social protest movement (which in the meantime has lost much of its energy) with the highest spheres of Greece’s political and representative institutions. In short, Syriza loses the government but shelters the party from the crisis, conserving its electorate (or most of it) and assuring its leader uncontested power within the party. Focusing on some of the achievements earned by his party, the analysis of the 2019 vote proposed by Tsipras confirms what was said previously: it is a defeat in a sense that the conservative neoliberal right reclaims power, even though we managed to get 31.5% of the votes and if we factor in the number of votes in absolute terms the result was not far off the result of September 2015. A party that 10 years ago was moving around 4%, came in power winning two elections in a row, made a painful compromise in 2015, was forced to adopt and implement austerity policies for a large part of its term, finally succeeded in leaving behind the program of economic adjustment, managed to secure its place as one of the two major political forces in Greece. This is clearly a success. If one also accounts for the bold moves we

Populism of government  109 made in a number of issues, as is the Prespa Agreement, resolving our 30 year old dispute with North Macedonia, we dealt with an unprecedented refugee crisis in a humane and efficient way, we promoted LGBTQ rights in a way no party before Syriza had ever done, we redirected public funds towards the most vulnerable parts of the population, we provided access to healthcare to millions of uninsured people, we managed to make unemployment rates drop by 10%.20 Moreover, in the new phase as an opposition party to the government of New Democracy, the leader of Syriza foreshadows the tactic and strategy of his party: these reforms and achievements did not come without a cost and it is our government’s legacy that we need to protect. When in opposition we will push for reforms that would be a continuation of our policies, oppose any attempts (and there have been a few in the past three months) that will signal a return to the ancient regime or that will seek to push the country towards a neoliberal, chauvinist, alt right direction. The election result gives us a chance, to form a party that matches up with the support we get in society. We now get the chance and need to work on a modern, democratic party that of the Left, that will not only come back to power in the next election, whenever that might be, but will elaborate a political program that will change Greece in the next decades.21 Notwithstanding the July 2019 electoral defeat, Syriza has been able to hold onto its political-institutional role in part because of its soundly structured party organization, which put Syriza in a stronger position than the Western European PRLPs appearing on the scene after the economic and financial crisis of the early 2000s. To be sure, its organizational model is one of Syriza’s distinguishing characteristics and it has developed over three different stages.22 The first stage is the nicheparty model, between 2004 and 2012, with modest electoral results and a marginal position in the national political system. The second stage can be subdivided into two intervals of time: from 2102 to 2015, when, by virtue of its progressive electoral growth, Syriza becomes the country’s largest political party, and; from 2015 to 2019, which coincides with the party’s first experience of government. Finally, the third stage, following the elections of 2019, will take the party into a new phase of further transformation. The organizational model adopted in each of these stages is different in correspondence with the different objectives pursued by the party in each phase. At the time of its foundation and for the entire following decade, Syriza takes the form of a coalition of parties capable of conducting an “ideological” opposition to the various successive governments in power during that time (Olsen et al. 2010). In this case, the prevailing model is that of the grassroots party, with great attention reserved for the members and activists of its base, with the aim of uniting and amalgamating in the field the various currents present within the party. In the following stage, as it prepares itself to assume the responsibilities of governing, Syriza becomes a unified party, assuming an “anti-establishment”

110  Populism of government image and using political rhetoric centered on the contraposition between the power elite that had led the country into conditions of extreme social and economic hardship. In this second stage, the prevailing model is that of the party in public office, which attributes special importance to its members elected to fill important institutional positions. In the last stage, where Syriza returns to the parliamentary opposition (initiated just before the writing of these reflections), the prospect is for a return to a strongly “ideological” opposition to the New Democracy government and against the neoliberalist policies providing for further cuts in public spending. In this case, the prevailing model appears to be that of the “central office party” restoring decisional power to party leaders and officers who are called on to effect important political choices with the objective of returning to occupy positions of command in the coming years. What must surely be kept in mind is that parties are not passive subjects. They are very sensitive to external stimuli and input coming from institutional bonds and from the competitive system in which they operate. In some cases, they display a strategy of adaptation to the outside environment, while in others they demonstrate a capacity to adopt dominant strategies able to modify the system in which they operate on a daily basis (Panebianco 1982; Katz and Mair 1992, 1995; Raniolo 2006). And it is precisely in relation to this adaptation/transformation dynamic that Syriza’s organizational model has changed over time. Nevertheless, beyond the changes that we have indicated, there is also a visible line of continuity. Indeed, the organizational model of the Coalition of the Radical Left, regardless of its individual historical phases, is characterized by a strong and continuous process of political institutionalization, with a highly structured and “heavy” working model, as opposed to the “light” organizational models characteristic of other party forms (personal parties, catch-all parties and cartel parties). A more systematic reflection on the different organizational models of the Populist Radical Left will be undertaken in the third part of the book. Here, we will limit ourselves to underlining that, unlike some other PRLPs (e.g. Podemos, but not only), Syriza has a more traditional model of political organization. It is more hierarchical and more vertical, attributing great importance to grassroots activists, to the bureaucratic rules regulating member behavior and mobility within the party and to the capacity for capillary penetration throughout the national territory. Not coincidentally, the network of humanitarian aid that helped bring to Greece food and medicine in the hardest weeks and months of the economic crisis in the early 2000s relied on the organizational structure of Syriza, which could count on immense amounts of human capital and party offices, clubs and sections in even the most peripheral cities of the country. This peculiar feature of Syriza remains constant in each of the party’s various phases. All of this did not prevent the party, however, from modifying its modus operandi during the years of the Great Recession in order to adapt to contingent dynamics. For example, between 2009 and 2015, the darkest years of the crisis, and all the way to its conquest of the national government, Syriza changed its image considerably, abandoning the Marxist tradition of its origins, which would have reduced its electoral appeal, and preferring a reformulation of its political

Populism of government  111 rhetoric. In view of the ongoing changes, the party’s new rhetoric is based on the bottom/top contraposition, no longer between workers and capitalists but rather between the people and the elites. Research studies on this theme (Stavrakakis and Katsambekis 2014; Markou 2017) show precisely this transformation and Syriza’s transition toward populism. In that historical phase, by choosing to utilize the contraposition between people and elite, Tsipras has been able to enlarge his electoral base, managing to dialogue with social strata previously outside of his political reach. The political project of Syriza, anyhow, did not stop. After the 2019 elections, the party is intended to begin a new phase of inner reformation. According to Tsipras, the direction is pretty clear: the party itself needs to move forward. Especially in terms of establishing a strong bond with the millennials and leave behind what used to be the playbook for the parties of the Left during the past decades. Nothing is the same and nothing will ever be, regarding the means and the ways we, as the Left, choose to promote our ideas and our vision. The political struggle will always be determined in one way or another, if and when the many collectively act upon to secure a better future securing their rights and needs. The Left exists to be the organized political force in all the levels of this process. In the 2020s, a huge part of this process takes part in social media, blogs, vlogs, websites, podcasts, etc. The internet transformed the very landscape of political struggle and unfortunately, as the last decade shows, the Right managed to understand and take full advantage of it on several occasions around the globe, while the Left effectively miscalculated and even underestimated the effect that the digital era would bring to politics. For us, the digital aspect of pollical struggle is one of the top priorities. This opening up of the party both in the sense of inclusiveness in membership as well as in new methods and ways of organization need to be discussed more in the coming months and on the way to our party congress in early 2020.23 Waiting for the future transformations and repercussions inside and outside the party, the electoral results – from the establishment of the party until the 2019 elections – are listed in the following pages.

Results Just a few months after its foundation, Syriza faces its first electoral challenge and chalks up some two hundred forty thousand votes, or 3.3% of the total, electing six deputies to the parliament. From then until 2009, the situation remains unchanged, with comparable numbers and percentages of votes in all the intervening elections, both national and European (Table 6.1). In its first phase of life, Syriza’s goal is to affirm its own political witness, similarly to many other parties of the European radical left.

112  Populism of government Table 6.1  Electoral Trends (Syriza) Parliamentary Elections Year

Votes

European Elections %

Seats

Year

Votes

%

– –

– –

Seats

2004 2007

241,637 361,211

3.3 5.0

   6   14

– –

2009

315,627

4.6

  13

2009

2012

1,061,928

16.8

  52









2012

1,655,022

26.9

  71

















2014

1,518,376

26.6

6

2015

2,245,978

36.3

149









2015 2019

1,926,526 1,781,174

35.5 31.5

145   86

– 2019

– 1,343,788

– 23.8



240,971

– – 4.7

1

6

Source: Ministry of the Interior

The institutional weight and political expectations of the party led by Alexis Tsipras change radically starting with the Parliamentary elections of May 2012, coincident with the peak of the protests in Syntagma Square described in the first section of this chapter. In that year, Greece holds national elections twice in the span of two months, first in May and then again in June. In the May elections, Syriza, which just three years earlier had won only 5% of the vote in both the Parliamentary and European elections, becomes the country’s second largest party just behind New Democracy. Unable to form a political majority in parliament, the country returns to the polls in June. This time the Coalition of the Radical Left again improves its performance, coming just short of 27% of the vote. As shown by the numbers reported in Table 6.1, in just three years Syriza quintuples its institutional weight and displays an increasing and accelerating capacity to grow to the point of aspiring to govern the country. The final decisive jump comes in the European elections of 2014, when Syriza becomes the leading national party and sends six of the twenty-one Greek Eurodeputies to Brussels. Sustained by a broad swath of the electorate (not just the radical left), in the national elections of January 2015, Syriza wins the right to govern Greece. This is the important turnabout that puts Greece at the center not only of national chronicles but also of European and worldwide media. Syriza’s victory in the first real experience of what can be defined as a political laboratory to which many countries of southern Europe, or at least some parts of those countries, look to with great interest. Tsipras’s victory in the Parliamentary elections represents an alternative to neoliberalist recessive policies, the desire to reverse the direction of march undertaken in preceding years and the intention to re-launch public spending, consumer spending, the welfare state and the most important public services (health care and education above all). An evaluation of its performance in just over ten years shows that Syriza goes from two hundred forty thousand to more almost

Populism of government  113 two and a half million votes, multiplying by ten times its institutional weight and reaching a 36.3% share of the total votes cast. What happens in the months after January 2015 has already been described in the previous section. Indeed, notwithstanding the popular consensus conferred on Syriza to change the heading of the national government, the pressure exercised by the institutions of international governance interrupts the political autonomy and the decisional sovereignty of the Greek government, producing a series of internal consequences that lead to the referendum of July 5. Subsequent political developments lead to the voluntary interruption of the first governmental experience of the Coalition of the Radical Left and the convocation of early elections scheduled for September of the same year. Despite a setback in terms of the number of votes (diminished in just a few months by three hundred twenty thousand), Syriza regains the confidence of the Greek people, which, despite continuing difficulties, sends a signal of continuity, favoring the installation of the second Tsipras administration. The following years are extremely difficult on the institutional level, paralyzing the capacity of the governing party to maintain consensus. Despite the results obtained in accounting terms (see previous section) the government finds itself in evident political difficulty with its supporters for not having done what it had promised in the election campaign. In this adverse climate, and in line with an electoral trend that seems to favor radical right populist parties throughout Europe, the date for the 2019 European elections arrives. Syriza’s results are not positive, with a loss of nearly one million votes and ten percentage points compared to the Parliamentary elections of January 2015 (Table 6). Fearing the worst, Tsipras again resigns the prime ministership, calling the country to new elections set for 7 July 2019. Syriza is the underdog in all of the pre-election polls. Nevertheless, the outcome is somewhat better than expected. Tsipras loses the leadership of the government but the party maintains its important position in the political system, wins almost a third of the vote and prepares to organize a stiff parliamentary opposition on the strength of which it can attempt to reconnect the demands and claims of a social protest with the country’s highest political and representative institutions. To be sure, the Coalition of the Radical Left finds itself now at a crossroads. It must either continue on its course of institutionalization, setting in motion a process of political moderation in order to occupy the position previously held by Pasok, or continue to propose a program of radical transformation. In the first case, regardless of its name, it is possible that Syriza will evolve into a traditional social-democratic party. In the second case, Syriza could continue to be an anomaly of the Greek political laboratory, attempting to carve out an alternative path without renouncing the radical contents of its political identity.

Notes   1 Source: Eurostat.   2 Ibid.   3 Ibid.   4 Ibid.   5 Source: Hellenic Statistical Authority

114  Populism of government   6 Source: Workers’ Housing Organization OEK.   7 Source: Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator S.A.   8 Synaspismos (SYN) is a political formation of the European radical left, heir to a political coalition constituted in 1980 on the reunification of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), bringing together its “internal” wing (more moderate and in favor of Greece’s membership in the European Community) and its “external” wing (in the neo-Stalinist and philo-Soviet tradition). In 1991, after the breakup of the Soviet Union and the definitive separation of the two wings of the KKE, Synaspismos is refounded without the external wing of the KKE, together with other minor political groups of the Greek left.   9 Interview with Aggelos Tsekeris, 27 September 2019. 10 Interview with Theano Fotiou, 27 September 2019. 11 Interview with Juan Danai Koltsida, 28 September 2017. 12 Despite the difficulties, the leaders of Syriza have no doubts regarding their opinion on the European Union. Basically, the Coalition of the Radical Left does not like the actual institutional arrangement of the EU, but its ultimate aim is to reform it, and not to destroy it. According to Dimitris Papadimoulis: “Syriza is a left-wing, democratic and European political force. . . . What we are witnessing today with Brexit, considering that the UK is the second strongest economy in Europe and the fifth in the world, allows us to see what might have happened had we not defused Grexit in the summer of 2015. We are a political party which is extremely critical of the UE, we dislike today’s Europe. . . . but we continue to fight to change this Europe. We desire a re-establishment of Europe, not its disintegration” (Interview with Dimitris Papadimoulis, 28 September 2019). In addition, according to Danai Koltsida: “Contrary to its external image, Syriza has always been a critically Pro-European party, in the sense that it criticizes the institutional architecture, democratic deficit and neoliberal leanings of the European Union, still considering as a progressive and left-wing alternative to insular nationalism” (Interview with Danai Koltsida, 28 September 2019). Moreover, in the words of Paulos Klavdianos: “SYRIZA is a totally Pro-European party. . . . we do not believe that the most difficult problems can be resolved at a national level. On the other hand, we do not believe that Europe’s orientation and its present institutional architecture can benefit us. We wish to change its architecture and for this reason we are against the Maastricht Treaty, against the Fiscal compact, etc. We wish to change the neoliberal attitude of the UE. . . . As to a more general evaluation, by looking at what is happening with Brexit, we were right to oppose Grexit” (Interview with Paulos Klavdianos, 27 September 2019). 13 Interview with Yannis Bournous, 7 January 2019. 14 To complete the picture, we can add that the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and European Commission have assured Athens about €273 billion in the form of a financial loan that Greece must repay at reduced interest rates. Nevertheless, of this sum only a minimal part goes to the Greek treasury, the rest is used to make debt payments to creditors (which are the same countries that finance the loans). By respecting the directives of the “memorandum” Greece has managed to avoid default, allowing the most exposed banks to avoid a financial collapse, but leaving its citizens in great difficulty. 15 Interview with Aggelos Tsekeris, 27 September 2019. 16 Interview with Danai Koltsida, 28 September 2019. 17 Interview with Paulos Klavdianos, 27 September 2019. 18 Interview with Georgios Katrougalos, 27 September 2019. Continuing with his reasoning, the former Minister adds very precise details: “the first thing we did was to make any irredentist resistance disappear from negotiations. By doing this we excluded the maps of the extremists from North Macedonians that wanted also to include Chalkidiki. . . . At the same time, we also silenced the Greek nationalists who wanted to take up arms and go to Skopije. In this way, we defused the most dangerous extremists on both sides. On the matter of a name we found a solution that suited both our own and our opponent’s sensitivity. . . . The Agreement of Prespa (which takes its name from the

Populism of government  115 lake at the border between the two countries were the Agreement was signed) will be judged by history as a great diplomatic agreement which gave a solution to the contrast in both countries. . . . This also increased Greece’s value at the diplomatic level, that proposed itself as a country capable of resolving problems and not part of the problems” (interview with Georgios Katrougalos, 27 September 2019). 19 Interview with Dimitris Papadimoulis, 28 September 2019. 20 Interview with Alexis Tsipras, conducted by the author on 7 October 2019. 21 Ibid. 22 For a more detailed look at Syriza’s organizational model please see the article written by Tarditi and Vittori (2019). 23 Interview with Alexis Tsipras, conducted by the author on 7 October 2019.

7

Presidential populism

Preview In France, favorable conditions for developing a political project comparable to those we have heretofore described come into being in the spring of 2016. That is when the socialist government of Manuel Valls (with François Hollande as President of the Republic) approves the Loi Travail (Jobs Act). One of the law’s purposes is to increase working hours through the extension of overtime, while at the same time introducing measures that allow greater flexibility to fire workers for economic reasons. Following this decision, sudden and intense protests break out in various cities throughout the country, particularly in the capital, and the protests continue for three months (from March through May). This period is marked by strong forms of protest: factory occupations, roadblocks, acts of insubordination and prolonged strikes. The participants in demonstrations are workers with permanent or short-term contracts, and temporary workers employed in numerous sectors of the economy: transportation, energy, logistics, metalworking, public services, distribution, automobiles and shipyards. All the principal sectors of the French economy come to a halt or function only intermittently for weeks, creating serious repercussions throughout the country. Moreover, the protesting workers are flanked by large numbers of students, who organize assemblies, school occupations and large demonstrations against all forms of precarious work, which in France, as in the rest of Europe, mainly involves the younger generations. In the days and weeks following this first wave of demonstrations, there emerges an additional form of dissent never seen before: the Nuit Debout (translated in English as “Up All Night”, “Standing Night”, or “Rise up at Night”). Demonstrators occupy the Place de la République in Paris, remaining on their feet all through the night until they are forced to leave their positions by the police. The novelty introduced by these protests is that the participants are not only workers and students. These two traditional types of protesters are joined by pensioners and homemakers, artisans, storeowners, white-collar workers, professionals, small business owners, intellectuals, teachers and university professors. The participants are men and women not necessarily united by strong political beliefs but who certainly share a common feeling of opposition to the choices made by the governing classes then in power under the presidency of François Hollande.

Presidential populism  117 This self-organized movement in opposition to labor market reforms expands to constitute a broader political platform aimed against the oligarchical powers leading political institutions and the national and international economic system, perceived as responsible for the ongoing crisis throughout Europe. The Nuit Debout immediately organizes citizen committees whose decisions are taken by majority vote, according to the basic principles of direct democracy. Although the first unofficial assemblies are convened starting on 23 February 2016 by the journalist, writer and essayist François Ruffin, subsequently elected to parliament, the night of the first official spontaneous convocation of the movement is 31 March 2016. On that night, it is Frédéric Lordon, economist and director of research at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) who delivers a speech received with great enthusiasm by the large crowd. Lordon launches an appeal for the destitution of the existing political system and the establishment of a new social Republic.1 Given their similar characteristics, the Nuit Debout movement is immediately compared to the indignados, the Spanish movement initiated a few years earlier.2 Like its Spanish cousin, the French movement is non-violent, constituted in the capital and then in just a few days implanted in cities throughout the country and organized in participatory daily assemblies convened to make decisions on the measures to adopt in the course of the protests (Felicetti and Della Porta 2018). The similarities with the Spanish experience are also evident in the obvious weakness of the traditional parties that are by now incapable of playing the role formerly attributed to mass parties. In Paris, as in Madrid, no party would have been able to claim credit for those protests because no party would have been capable of organizing them. In France, too, the movement at the heart of the protests is mainly of spontaneous origin, tied to the immediate reaction of the population against the regulations of the labor market introduced by the new law. During the demonstrations, the Parti socialiste (PS) in the first place, but also all the other parties of the traditional left, including the Parti communiste français (PCF) are indicated as the cause of the problems, and none of them is recognized as having any possible role in their resolution. This is the context for the opening, now also in France, of a new political season. The Nuit Debout movement and the events in Paris in the spring of 2016 are the pre-conditions that lead to a new process of profound political renewal rooted in strong anti-establishment sentiments that, as in Spain, are opposed to the classic parties of the traditional left. In France, this period of conflict and protest in the streets constitutes the premise for the foundation, just a short time later, of a new political actor, which appeals directly to the demands of la France insoumise (insubordinate France).

Framework The constitutive process that leads to the foundation of France insoumise (LFI), variously translated as “Unbowed France,” “Unsubmissive France”, or “Untamed France”, is strongly tied to the personal and political experience of Jean-Luc Mélenchon (JLM), its architect and founder. Considering the broad overlap between the

118  Presidential populism political project and the figure of its leader, our presentation of France insoumise starts from and directly intersects with an analysis of the personal profile of JLM. Mélenchon is a longtime politician. In 1971, after his socialist experience as a “Lambertist”, the Trotskyist component of the Fourth International, JLM and his political followers join the Parti socialiste as anti-communists when François Mitterrand is elected head of the national political secretariat.3 Mélenchon will remain in the PS for more than thirty years. From 2000 to 2002, as leader of the party’s left wing, he is appointed minister for occupational training in the government of the gauche plurielle (Plural Left) led by Lionel Jospin. JLM leaves the party in the months following the referendum of 29 May 2005 on the Treaty for the Constitution of Europe (TCE). France rejects the treaty after a strong campaign organized by a broad political front in which Mélenchon plays an active role, advancing sovereigntist positions strongly critical of what he defines as the “constitutionalization” of the neoliberal policies adopted by the European Union. In 2008, convinced that his experience inside the PS had come to an end, JLM founds the Parti de gauche (PdG) with the aim of favoring the creation of an autonomous party of the radical left, positioned to the left of the French Socialist Party (Damiani and De Luca 2016). Defining himself in this period, Mélenchon declares: “I am a republican, I believe in representative democracy and in elections. That is why I call for a citizens’ revolution through the ballot box” (in Marlière 2019: 96). A few months later, in pursuit of these goals, the Front de gauche (FdG) is formed, uniting under a single banner a long list of minority left parties (Damiani and De Luca 2016). One of the cofounders and an integral part of the FdG is the Parti comuniste français, which in the preceding years had displayed notable difficulties in retaining its electorate.4 With the backing of the PCF, Mélenchon becomes the Front’s candidate in the presidential elections of 2012, attaining 11% of the vote,5 a hopeful result for the radical left parties aligned to the left of the PS. Indeed, this political area had not achieved similar percentages since the time of Georges Marchais.6 From its founding, the goal of the FdG is to implement a competitive strategy with respect to both the French Socialist Party and the extreme left, which in France, at the start of the third millennium, confirms its rejection of a common strategy of political alliance capable of reuniting most of the French ultra-gauche. Despite this promising electoral debut, the FdG’s performance in the legislative elections held in the same year is not as encouraging as the results achieved in the presidential election. This time the Front returns with less than 7% of the vote.7 The experience of the FdG, characterized by visceral internal conflicts among its numerous and heterogeneous currents and by a low level of political organization and structure, comes to an end with the European elections of 2014, when the whole coalition displays an incapacity to maintain its earlier double-figure electoral performance.8 Notwithstanding his disappointment for the setback dealt to the political project that he had helped to create, Mélenchon decides not to retire to private life, continuing to cultivate ambitious political plans for the future. In this phase, he returns to the themes of grassroots participation and criticism of the traditional model of representative democracy. In 2014, at the same time that the Front de

Presidential populism  119 gauche meets its end, JLM relaunches the proposals for constitutional reform once so dear to the classic French left but set aside in recent years. This is the period of the foundation of the Mouvement pour la Sixième République (Movement for the Sixth Republic),9 which he uses to present himself as the champion of change, proposing to move beyond the presidential system. The proposal is to make citizens the protagonists of a democratically functional parliament-centered institutional model. At this time, JLM decides to abandon his project for the reconstruction of the traditional left and to set off in a completely new direction.10 Accordingly, in August 2015, he resigns from the Parti de gauche, declaring his desire to go to work on a radically different political project. Actually, the idea of a new and original political project occurs to Mélenchon after the events in Spain in May 2011, with the emergence of the 15M Movement. JLM, son of a French family of Spanish origins (his paternal grandparents came from Murcia), has always paid special attention to what is happening on the other side of the Pyrenees, while at the same time taking a strong personal interest in the political chronicles of the Spanish-language countries in Latin America. For all of these reasons, after the onset of the economic crisis of the Great Recession, he begins to look with interest and favor at the experience of the indignados. In that same period, he begins to travel, above all to Venezuela, Ecuador, and Uruguay to investigate the work being done there by Hugo Chavez (and then Nicolas Maduro), Rafael Correa, and Josè Mujica. Mélenchon sends personal friends of his to join the presidential staffs of these countries, and his envoys remain for long periods in the bureaucratic and administrative agencies of the Bolivarian governments. His intention is to increase his understanding of the motivations behind the South American revolutions of the early 2000s in order to determine if there is some connection between those events and the appearance in Europe of the 15M Movement. Starting from these considerations, and perceiving the opening of a space for political action, Mélenchon begins to imagine an analogous operation to be conducted in his own country. These convictions are reinforced in the spring of 2016, in the weeks and months of the strong protest demonstrations in France in opposition to the labor market reforms approved by the then socialist government of Manuel Valls. The protests of those days (described in the previous section) convince Mélenchon and his circle of advisors that it is also possible to work in France to “fédérer le peuple” (federate the people) by unifying in a single political subject the popular and middle classes against the capitalist bourgeoisie. The objective is to move beyond the traditional model of the political party, and particularly the organizational scheme of the labor parties of the past, to give rise to an unconventional political formation capable of bringing together as many people as possible around a message comprised of progressive, environmental and republican components. It is in this way that, in accordance with the work done on behalf of the Mouvement pour la Sixième République and with the aim of returning power to the people, JLM launches the proposal for a new movement-party, outside of the classic scheme of the ideological parties of the 20th century. In this case, too, the intention is to construct the bases of a political project able to integrate (and/or move beyond) the capital/labor contraposition of society and Laclau’s “logic of

120  Presidential populism equivalence” (2005). JLM’s intention is to promote the convergence, in a single political platform, of the unmet needs of all those who – regardless of their social extraction – have reason to oppose the unfavorable conditions imposed by the international economic system and the choices adopted by the national ruling class. In Mélenchon’s view (2014), the federation of the people is a three-level process. On the first level, he puts les gens or the homo urbanus, who live in urban areas and who are, for this reason, the object of a profound process of depoliticization. On the second level, Mélenchon includes single individuals, women and men, who, although not activists or registered members of any political party, develop an independent political consciousness that leads them to take political action in the narrow sense of the term. On the third level, JLM considers le réseau (the network), that is, the thick network of collective actors who participate in political action and constitute the final component of le peuple. He excludes, however, political parties, insofar as they are considered obsolete compared to social movements, associations and more horizontal organizations. When asked directly about his concept of the people, Mélenchon states: It is not a people that is an ethnic people, or united by their own religion, or distinguished by the color of their skin. . . . Such a people, I believe, has never existed in any part of the world. A people defines itself politically by forming a legal community, and the foundation of this legal community is defined in the moment in which the people decides to elect its representative to whom it gives a mandate to exercise power.11 This is a very French conception of the people, tied to the historical inheritance of the revolutionary constitution of 1792, which still exists romantically in the political and cultural self-representation of part of the French citizenry. It is an idea of a constitutive people, according to which France was born thanks to the will of the people. In this conception, it is the people who generate France and not the other way around. Without the entity called the people, there would not exist a national political community. Based on this presupposition, Mélenchon’s project proposes to represent the most radical demands of the democratic conflict. In continuity with the Smithian concept of politics, understood as the contraposition of friend and enemy (Schmitt 1927), JLM redefines political conflict around the dyad top/ bottom and identifies the “enemy” of the people not in those who are racially different, nor in immigrants. Rather, the people’s enemy is the Europe of the banks, the bureaucracy, policies of austerity and economic rigor, and an atavistic political class, accused of being incapable of resolving the problems it has caused in the course of recent years. In this way, in France too, le peuple, understood as a collective political subject, becomes the privileged interlocutor of a populist-style political formation. Mélenchon’s goal is to become the interpreter of the demands for change expressed throughout the country in order to construct a people no longer consisting only of the proletariat or of exploited workers but rather a heterogeneous majority of the population. As their would-be leader, he offers them a political project different from those of the past, without ideological content and

Presidential populism  121 radically alternative to both neoliberalism (right and left) and the xenophobic and ultranationalist right. Thus, France insoumise is born. In advance of the protests following the passage of the Loi Travail, the project is presented officially on 10 February 2016 with a petition posted on the internet asking for signatures in support of JLM’s candidacy for president in the 2017 presidential election. The operation will have an even greater echo over the course of the following months, when the Nuit Debout movement begins to gather strength.12 The first public meeting organized by LFI is convened, in a show of support for its leader, on 5 June 2016 in Place de la Bataille-de-Stalingrad and draws a crowd of ten thousand people. In the following weeks, Mélenchon announces his candidacy for the 2017 presidential election with the support, neither taken for granted nor easily procured, of the French Communist Party. In the election, the candidate of the LFI achieves a positive result unexpected up until just a few days before the vote, narrowly missing the chance to enter the runoff election (Lazar 2017). The leader of the LFI finishes in fourth place, behind first-place finisher Emanuel Macron (subsequently elected the twenty-fifth President of the Republic, and just a few votes behind Marie Le Pen (candidate of the extreme right Front national) and François Fillon (candidate of the neo-Gaullist right Les Républicains). Just a few weeks later, in June of the same year, in the elections for the renewal of the national legislative assembly, France insoumise – which in the meantime has gone through another divorce from the PCF, presenting its own autonomous candidates throughout the country – obtains an appreciable result, managing to form an autonomous parliamentary group (for an analysis of the election results of France insoumise, please see the next section). With the foundation of the LFI, Mélenchon’s new political direction is rather clear. He abandons the traditional leadership model in an effort to re-unite the French left by running as a candidate for the role of “leader of the people” supported by a political formation belonging to the category of Western European PRLPs. The novelty for JLM is his desire to unify the different segments and interests of a fragmented society by providing them with a sense of collective belonging outside of the interpretive schemes typical of the class distinctions of the 19th and 20th centuries. Compared to the classic left, Mélenchon marks an indelible difference with the political history of contemporary France. France insoumise renounces the traditional left’s ideology of a socialist utopia, the iconography of red flags and the anthem of the International (replaced by the French flag and the Marseillaise. In this regard, the voices gathered inside the FLI in the effort to reconstruct the passages that will lead to the foundation of a new movement-party are unanimous. Gabriel Amard, a political leader from the ranks of the Parti de gauche, presents his unbridled analysis of the strategy adopted in the constitutive phase: we had been saying for ten years that traditional party forms no longer had any connection to society. These forms had lost touch with factory and office workers. They had stopped organizing popular struggles and had been transformed into structures that live to support themselves, made up for the most part of political professionals and local administrators, almost completely

122  Presidential populism estranged from the workplace. This is true for both the social-democratic parties and the communist parties. In France, for example, the Communist Party is falling apart for these very reasons. By saying this, I’m not looking to find the guilty party, I’m just trying to describe reality. From here the idea arose to make a new beginning with common rules . . . to organize something new. The objective was that of “Federer le peuple” [federate the people]. That is to say, to get the people moving, so that it becomes a political subject, by leaving behind the traditional left/right contraposition. . . . We had to build something completely new, because the people felt that the word left was washed up.13 Expressing virtually the same reasoning, with slightly different words, Charlotte Girard, a longtime political leader and personal friend of JLM, offers the same interpretation of events: the left had lost its historical significance and all that remained in people’s minds was a sense of betrayal. Certainly, [the left] was no longer recognized as a political force conceived in defense of the general interest. It was necessary to break away from this situation and move outside the confines of this political specter. Besides, we had to mobilize other segments of the population, hostile to the old left and/or who had dropped out of politics [over the years]. For this reason, it was unthinkable that we could label ourselves as left. It would have been misleading and reductive.14 Manuel Bompard, in charge of marketing and campaign coordinator for JML and the LFI, confirms this analysis. According to Bompard, the area of the new European left, and particularly in the French new left, has become the home of a series of political actors who present specific elements based on the peculiar characteristics of the various European countries, but all of them are united by the desire to: turn their backs on the [neoliberalist] transformation of the socialist parties, with the objective of reconnecting with the most profound popular aspirations, taking into consideration the ecological imperative and the demand for democracy that has emerged in the wake of citizen movements who have as a priority taking back power for the people. These various political formations also share the same strategic intuitions, I mean, the need to rethink the forms of popular intervention by breaking with parties that are closed and distant from people’s needs, so as to develop mass movements that take into account the growing social atomization.15 In identitary terms, in regard to breaking away from the parties of the traditional left and the classic categories of contemporary politics, Sophia Chikirou, communications expert involved in the election campaigns of France insoumise, outlines very effectively the ideas underlying the foundation of the movement: left and right [are] unstable spaces forced to “construct” their positions on the basis of events and the exchange of ideas. In a world where the exchange

Presidential populism  123 of ideas is impeded by the exercise of absolute hegemony on the part of financial capitalism and by the overwhelming predominance of the American superpower, left and right are inadequate “concepts”. This does not mean that they are in danger. We are in a phase of “recomposition.” In all countries of the world, political actors must position themselves with respect to the issues of our time. Climate change, gender equality, the sharing of wealth, and the recognition of common goods (water, health, education) cannot be delegated to the private market, the battle against corruption in the justice system and the police, the rejection of authoritarianism, the sovereignty of the people over monetary policy, or peace and the rejection of the war economy. These are emerging problems that are defining emerging political categories.16 France insoumise, therefore, presents itself as an effectively renewed political force with respect to the classic tradition of the French left. To be sure, JLM sets in motion a renewed practice of political communication, adopting a non-ideological discourse capable of reaching a wide range of citizen-voters on the basis of a common worldview shaped in reference to a social majority undergoing a powerful process of de-ideologization (Rendueles and Sola 2015). If the ambition is to talk to everybody, Mélenchon’s method for reaching that objective is fairly clear. He adopts a political rhetoric that does not exclude any part of the people, liberates himself from a subordinate position with respect to the Socialist Party (which came out of the 2017 elections severely battered),17 unchains himself from the losing image of someone who is a perennial candidate to the left of, and presents himself as the challenger chosen by France insoumise, free from the old traditional policies and tired of passively absorbing the negative impact of the long economic and financial crisis (Damiani and Piselli 2019; Chiocchetti 2020). From that point of view, Mélenchon executes a political maneuver that places him far away from the historical minority of the French gauche (of which he, a longtime activist in the PS and a member of its national governments, was never a part), giving him the opportunity to launch a bid for the presidency based on a program of radical democratic transformation.18 The symbol of this new political formation also appears on the scene in this context. The logo of the LFI has a very original genesis, resembling the letter “phi” of the Greek alphabet (φ). This letter represents the sound of the acronym FI (for France insoumise), also evoking at the same time, however, a symbol frequently adopted in the mathematical sciences, as well as in philosophy and economics. The reason behind this choice lies in the fact that Greek phi is a neutral symbol, neither left nor right, which perfectly represents the new experiment and the spirit of renewal with which France insoumise came into being. Organizationally, the LFI is a movement-party structured almost exclusively around its leader. As openly stated by its main leadership bodies, France insoumise: is not a political party. It is a movement of individual citizens who recognize themselves in the program of L’Avenir en commun without becoming members of a party or an association.19

124  Presidential populism This same sentiment is expressed again by Charlotte Girard, who, speaking of the structural characteristics of LFI, declares: France insoumise was born as a movement and not a political party with a membership system and other rigid formalities. It is a group of people united around a digital platform, around the ideas that founded a political program aimed at winning elections and governing. That is to say, a program for the attainment and exercise of power.20 Notwithstanding its evident populist vocation, in fact, the LFI is constituted as an instrument in the hands of its leader, born by his will and thus strongly tied to his personal and political destiny. In this regard, Gabriel Amard again offers a detailed analysis, describing both the horizontal and vertical levels through which the original formation and the process of LFI’s political structuring can be explained: France insoumise comes to life as a horizontal social network. . . . Mélenchon is an instrument at the disposal of a citizens’ movement, but since we are in the Fifth Republic, it is obvious that in France you need the figure of a leader, and he knows perfectly well how to personify the political project.21 Amard’s words summarize perfectly the intersection of the two constitutive dimensions of the LFI, the horizontal – devoted to the highest possible rate of popular participation – and the vertical – which serves to mediate and represent the proposals – of the movement-party. Although situated in different national and political contexts, these same characteristics are common to the PRLPs of Western Europe, and especially the youngest among them, which appeared on the political scene following the economic crisis of the Great Recession (Chapter 2). Three years from its foundation, however, the LFI’s political structure continues to be rather lightweight, partly because of the choice not to rely on the contribution of allied parties. With regard to its internal organization, the main leaders of France insoumise are, for the most part, people not involved (or involved only marginally) in previous politico-institutional experiences, even though they include competent people capable of providing the experience necessary to carry on the movement’s political development (Marlière 2019; Lago 2017).22 Like Podemos, the LFI also comes into being at a time very close to important elections and thus is strongly shaped by the communication demands of the election campaign, as part of the anti-establishment politics typical of Western Europe at the turn of the 21st century (Schedler 1996; Abedi 2004). After its initial successes, political and electoral, the main difficulties encountered by France insoumise coincide, paradoxically, with the appearance of a new people’s movement, which suddenly explodes on the scene in Paris in November 2018 and changes the balance of political power in the country. The new entry is the Gilets jaunes (Yellow Vests) movement, which, despite a convergence on some programmatic issues, such as participation and promotion of popular initiative referenda, steals the thunder and the central political role of JLM’s formation,

Presidential populism  125 reorganizing political conflict (in this case including violent battles in the public squares) on different bases with respect to those on which the LFI was founded (Marchetti et al. 2019).23 The most important reasons for those differences are to be found in the different degrees of importance attributed to the instrument of the party. Indeed, marked by an evident insurrectionist attitude, the Yellow Vests Movement, far from relying on the model of political parties (even in the unusual version of that model interpreted by France insoumise), is a social movement that rejects all forms of formal political organization, searching for alternative models of social struggle. Without recognizing any privileged political counterpart, it concentrates on public demonstrations in the streets in an attempt to impose its political agenda on government institutions. Apart from these turbulent external events, the political fortunes of France insoumise are further affected by the more traditional internal dynamics of the European left. After the 2017 presidential election, and despite the movement’s positive performance, Mélenchon’s formation enters a very difficult phase, owing to the failure to make it into the runoff. After the great expectations declared during the election campaign, the fourth-place finish kindles a heated debate marked by two alternative and opposing positions. On one side, given the obstacles to the movement’s political-electoral structuring encountered after 2017, Mélenchon begins to consider taking a step backward, returning to the strategy of building a more traditional-style radical left party.24 On the other side, JLM proposes another, contradictory option: to keep on going in the same direction, re-doubling the effort to build a strongly populist political formation. These contrasting plans for action, both followed at different times by the leadership bodies of the LFI and by JLM himself, give rise to a substantial internal conflict that prompts some important members of the movement to leave, further weakening its prospects. It all begins in the summer of 2018, in the months of selection of the movement’s candidates for the European elections scheduled for the following year. The first leaders to leave France insoumise are Liêm Hoang-Ngoc and Sarah Soilihi, both former members of the Socialist Party and both in dissent from the candidate-selection process chosen by JLM and from his leadership style, which continues, in their view, to show his incapacity to differentiate himself from the movement. This initial hemorrhage is followed by another. In the early months of 2019, in fact, there is another exit, voluntary or forced, of a group of leaders from the populist wing of the movement in favor of an acceleration in that direction. The most important names among this group are Djordje Kuzmanovic (who will leave France insoumise together with his entire political group), Juan Branco, and François Cocq. These fractures are favored by JLM’s critical declarations, which provoke immediate resignations. But that is not all. A third phase of internal turbulence opens up inside the LFI around the 2019 European elections, this time focused on the even more delicate issue of internal democracy. The casus belli is the lack of formalized rules regulating the movement’s internal decision-making process, which, according to some of its leaders, is controlled exclusively by JLM. In this case, the hard-fought battle ends with

126  Presidential populism the exit of a rather large group of leaders, including Thomas Guénolé, Morel Darleux, and Manon Le Breton. To this list must be added another particularly important name of one of the movement’s most important leaders ever since the beginning. In June 2019, it is Charlotte Girard who leaves the movement-party that she herself had helped to create. During the summer of 2019, in the face of these difficulties, there is considerable movement among the highest levels of the LFI. The attempt to respond to the internal dissent leads to the election of Adrien Quatennens, a young member of parliament and a close advisor of JLM, to the position of national coordinator. This maneuver is a sidestep by Mélenchon who, while holding on to his seat in parliament and his leadership of the LFI’s deputies, tries to move the pawns at his disposal in order to renew his political organization. The objective is to present the movement to voters with a new face and with new and fresh energy in the service of its political project. Nevertheless, after the 2019 European elections, the LFI’s critical phase does not appear to have been interrupted. Despite the attempts made to contain the internal conflicts, we can safely affirm that, in its three years of life, the potential strength of France insoumise coincides with its most evident limitations. Indeed, the congenital centrality of its leader, while facilitating the constitutive process of the movement-party, has turned out to be its most important weakness. Realistically, it is difficult to imagine the near future of the LFI without JLM. Mélenchon is its creator, its voice, its megaphone, and its most important political resource. His political strategy and his political longevity appear to be indissolubly tied to the destiny of this project. Its achievements, whether political or electoral, must be attributed to him.

Results Given the short time since its foundation, France insoumise has had the chance to participate only in two election cycles: the presidential and legislative elections of 2017 and the European elections of 2019. Therefore. its electoral balance sheet must still be considered provisional. Limiting ourselves to the examination of these two cases, what we find is an alternating performance, with an obvious success in the presidential election, a more modest result in the legislative election and a critical setback in the European elections (Table 7.1). To be sure, one of the most Table 7.1  Electoral Trends (France insoumise) Presidential Elections Year Votes

%

Legislative Elections Seats Year Votes % (1st round)

2017 7,059,951 19.6 – – – – – Source: Ministry of the Interior

European Elections Seats Year Votes

2017 2,497,622 11.0 17 – – – –

%

Seats

– – – – 2019 1,428,548 6.3 6

Presidential populism  127 important variables that affects the movement’s electoral performance, positively and negatively, is the election law. On the occasion of the direct election of the President of the Republic, for example, the face and name of Mélenchon helps the LFI achieve an unprecedented success in terms of raw numbers, garnering more than seven million votes. JLM outperforms the candidate of the Socialist Party, Benoît Hamon, who, for his part, turns in a terrible result, suffering a profound electoral and political defeat. On the other hand, where the election takes on a more political and less personal nature, the LFI isn’t able to attain the numbers indicated in the case of the presidential election, displaying evident difficulties and lower electoral yields. The importance of the leader during election campaigns is also nicely highlighted by the words of Manuel Bompard, who, commenting on the choices made on the occasion of the presidential election of 2017, confirms what had already been stated by Gabriel Amard and cited in the preceding section: first of all, we chose a strategic line: the objective was not to reunite the left but to féderer le peuple. . . . For this reason, we needed unifying elements that would allow us to reunite the various antagonisms existing in society around common objectives. In this sense, the figure of the candidate has a decisive role in his capacity to unify and sustain popular aspirations.25 Regardless of the alternating electoral results achieved in its first three years of activity, there is no doubt that the political communication of France insoumise is strongly innovative. The new political project is reflected in an electoral marketing campaign that is coherent with the objectives pursued by the movement. From this point of view, the most curious maneuver is the choice to use a hologram during JLM’s campaign speeches and public rallies. With this tool, used especially but not solely in the presidential campaign, Mélenchon is able to present himself to his audience in a number of cities throughout the country at the same time. In one of them, he is present in flesh and blood; in all the others he appears in a beam of light that reproduces a three-dimensional copy of himself that pronounces the same words on a different stage and in a different context in each case. Beyond this gimmick, however, the innovative nature of his political communication and his effective use of social media and all means of mass communication is undeniable. We will address this issue, in a comparative way, in the last part of the book. Here, we will limit ourselves to observing how the construction of the people has been carried out on two levels: in real public squares, with more traditional modalities and with the direct contribution of the leader, and in virtual public squares, through the skilled use of means of mass communication. Nevertheless, perhaps still with an eye toward identifying the external “enemy”, the media, along with other contributing factors, are seen to be the cause of the movement’s poor electoral performance in the European elections of 2019: the difficulties encountered . . . are also (and above all) owing to the phase that we are going through: the whole humanist movement (Podemos, for example)

128  Presidential populism has suffered a setback. This period is characterized by the return of the fascists and racists who have benefitted from the almost twenty years of the battle against Islamic terrorism. Europeans have been traumatized by such attacks and the wars launched by NATO have had a direct impact on the arrival of refugees. In addition, there is a decisive factor: the media. The French media support Macron and his government. All the journalists seems to have been placed at the service of the dominant powers. . . . The media are very hostile to the LFI and Mélenchon.26 In her attempt to interpret the electoral obstacles encountered by France insoumise, Chikirou indicates the media, in addition to the particularly difficult phase for the whole European left, as one of the critical factors that have contributed to the movement party’s inconsistent performance. But in all likelihood, this is not the only explanation for the LFI’s failure to take off. The communications variable is strongly interconnected with the conflictual internal political situation described in the preceding section.

Notes   1 Source: Frédéric Lordon. “Pour la république sociale.” Available at: https://www. monde-diplomatique.fr/2016/03/LORDON/54925.   2 Source: Youenn Goulay. “Nuit debout entre en résonance avec ce qu’on a vécu en Espagne.” Available at: https://www.lemonde.fr/societe/article/2016/04/16/nuit-deboutentre-en-resonance-avec-ce-qu-on-a-vecu-en-espagne_4903355_3224.html.   3 François Mitterrand is elected head of the national political secretariat of the PS in 1971 and remains in office for a decade, until 1981. Subsequently, from 1981 through 1995, he serves two consecutive terms as President of the Fifth French Republic. Mitterrand dies in 1996.   4 For a reconstruction of the history of the PCF, see Lazar (1992), Courtois and Lazar (1995), Martelli (2008, 2010)  5 Source: Ministère de l’Interieur.   6 Georges Marchais was the historical head of the PCF from 1972 to 1994.   7 Source: Ministère de l’Interieur.   8 Actually, the crisis of the Front de Gauche was already evident on the occasion of the local elections of the same year, when the left’s candidate (subsequently elected) for mayor of Paris is Anne Hidalgo, supported by the PCF but strongly opposed by Mélenchon. From that moment on, the fracture between JLM and the French Communist Party becomes wider and wider.   9 In this regard, in strong opposition to the reforms promoted in 1958 by General De Gaulle introducing the semi-presidential system and the direct election of the Head of State, François Mitterand, then a leader of the Parti socialiste, does battle against that constitutional arrangement, asking instead for reinforcement of the legislative branch and the centrality of parliamentary institutions (Mitterrand 1964). The objective is to denounce the Gaullist evolution of the political system, which according to Mitterrand and the French socialists, granted too much power to the President of the Fifth Republic and too little to the citizens organized in the political arena. 10 Not coincidentally, it is in this period that he publishes a book titled, L’ére du people (The People’s Era). 11 Interview with Jean-Luc Mélenchon, 15 February 2018. 12 In this regard, Mélenchon himself (2016) publishes an interview-book in which he attempts to explain the choices and the motivations for the rebellion.

Presidential populism  129 13 Interview with Gabriel Amard, 16 February 2018. 14 Interview with Charlotte Girard, 7 June 2019. 15 Interview with Manuel Bompard, 7 March 2019. 16 Interview with Sophia Chikirou, 2 July 2019. 17 In terms of election results, the French Socialist Party touched its lowest point in history since the beginning of the Fifth Republic. In the 2017 presidential elections, its candidate, Benoît Hamon, receives less than 6.4% of the vote and is left out f the runoff balloting. In the legislative elections held in the same year, the PS does not fare much better, with just over one and a half million votes on the first ballot and thirty seats in parliament (Source: Ministère de l’Intérieur). 18 The competition with the traditional parties of the French left becomes more and more intense. The battle becomes especially heated with the French Communist Party. In 2017, during the campaign for the runoff balloting in the presidential election, following the appeal by Pierre Laurent (national secretary of the PCF) to vote for Macron as an anti-Lepin vote, JLM reacted with a very harsh statement: “it took you ten months to decide to support me, but only ten minutes to decide to vote for Macron. You, communists, are death and nothingness!” (in Marlière 2019: 102). 19 Source: http://fi82.fr/2/je-fais-un-don-pour-la-campagne/ (accessed 5 July 2018). L’Avenir en commun (Future in Common) is the title of the political platform of France insoumise for the 2017 presidential election. 20 Interview with Charlotte Girard, 7 June 2019. 21 Interview with Gabriel Amard, 16 February 2018. 22 Among these figures, it is worth recalling Clèmentine Autain, a longtime activist in the feminist movement, now a deputy in the French national assembly elected by France insoumise, formerly a member of the Paris city council and the regional legislature of Île-de-France; Alexis Corbière, a former activist in the Ligue communiste rèvolutionnaire of Olivier Besancenot, subsequently member of the Parti socialiste and then national secretary of the Parti de gauche (formerly a city council member in Paris, now deputy in the national assembly for France insoumise); Eric Coquerel, formerly a regional council member in Île-de-France and coordinator of the Parti de gauche, then elected to the national assembly on the France insoumise ticket. In addition to these names, we would like to indicate Charlotte Girard and Manuel Bompard, both previously mentioned and both important leaders of France insoumise, personally very close to Mélenchon, and formerly activists and leaders in the French gauche. Complaining of a lack of internal democracy, Charlotte Girard leaves FI in the spring of 2019. 23 The Yellow Vests movement is self-convened to protest against an increase in fuel consumption taxes. Unlike the Spanish indignados in May 2011, this movement did not mobilize educated young people making demands for their own futures. The Yellow Vests movement is composed mostly of people residing in rural and suburban areas, workers in economic difficulty, or impoverished workers. For all of these reasons, it represents a population much different from the “people” which contributed to the founding of the PRLPs in Western Europe. 24 Wanting to go back to reconstruct a broad coalition of the French left, JLM decides to welcome the entry into France insoumise a group of disappointed socialists, who had left the PS (among them, Marie-Noëlle Lienemann and Emmanuel Maurel). 25 Interview with Manuel Bompard, 7 March 2019. 26 Interview with Sophia Chikirou, 2 July 2019.

 

8

Other left populisms

Preview In addition to those we have already considered, Western European PRLPs also include the category of Hyper-Identitary PRLPs. These are parties of the radical populist left that have a long history. Founded many years before the economic and financial crisis of the beginning of the 21st century, their gestation takes place before 1989, within the furrows of Marxist tradition. These are parties of the Old Left, that then become protagonists of a process of political reformulation that permits them to reconcile the value of social equality with the rhetoric typical of populism. The Hyper-Identitary parties meeting the requisite characteristics of PRLPs include the following: the Parti du Travail de Belgique or PTB (Workers’ Party of Belgium), the Socialistische Partij or SP (Dutch Socialist Party), and the Sinn Féin or SF in Ireland. These three parties can, in turn, be divided into two subcategories. The first includes those parties characterized in the past by a strong ideological content, which, in the face of the newly exploded Great Recession, decide to adopt a political rhetoric largely different from the past. These parties absorb within themselves the us/them cleavage declined in terms of the bottom/ top formula typical of the parties of the populist left, integrating it with the more traditional cleavages contraposing the working class with the owners of the means of capitalist production. What emerges is a peculiar form of political party, recognizable as part of the European radical left but capable of enlarging its electoral base beyond workers and the working classes to include all those who share a profound sense of defeat in the process of globalization, allegedly responsible for widespread social and economic hardship (Kriesi et al. 2008). This shared sense of defeat is expressed in a strong anti-establishment critique, in line with all the parties on the radical left (Damiani 2016), aimed at accusing the ruling class of being incapable of resolving economic and social problems with their inadequate and harmful policies of austerity. Both the Dutch Socialist Party and the Workers’ Party of Belgium belong to this first subcategory of Hyper-Identitary PRLPs. The second subcategory, instead, includes the ethno-regionalist parties of the European radical left. These are parties which have never renounced their radical left identity but which distinguish themselves from other radical left parties by

Other left populisms  131 advancing demands for political autonomy from the state in which they operate. Their main goal is to represent territorial and/or regionally concentrated ethnic groups that have a common identity based on a common language, culture, territory or history (De Winter and Tursan 1998; Tursan 1998). According to MüllerRommel (1998), political parties belonging to this specific typology claim their cultural identity by challenging the constitutional order of nation-states. Beyond such parties that belong to the radical right, there are also ethnoregionalist parties belonging to the radical left. The objective of these parties is to blend in a single platform the center/periphery cleavage and the owner/worker cleavage. The result is the formation of parties founded on socialist principles that go through a process of autonomization from the national political community of which they are a part. For our purposes, the party that displays all of the indicated characteristics and that we will examine in the course of this book is Sinn Féin. This party’s mission is to pursue the political unification of the two Irelands by demanding application of the principle of self-government and rejecting any British interference in Ireland’s internal affairs. The following section examines the constitution and political transformation typical of Hyper-Identitarian PRLPs. Our analysis takes into consideration both parties that redefine their political platform by integrating the owner/worker cleavage with the bottom/top cleavage as well as parties that advance demands for polity reform by asking for a redefinition of the territorial borders of their community while at the same time demanding social equality.

Framework The Dutch case of the Socialistische Partij is one of the most interesting examples of the Hyper-Identitarian PRLPs, founded on 22 October 1971, with the name of the Marxist/Leninist Communist Party of the Netherlands, it changes its name the next year to Socialistische Partij. In the second half of the 1970s, after going through a period of strong Maoist influence, the Dutch Socialist Party begins a phase of rapid de-ideoligization, taking shape as a more pragmatic party (even though, in reality, the process cannot be said to have been completed until the md 1980s). The reason for this transformation is the desire to detach the party from a strong and formalized ideology in order to reach a potentially wider electoral target (Voerman 2008). The year 1983 marks a true turning point in the party’s identity. That year the PS publishes a report titled, Gasterbeld en kapitaal (Guest Workers and Capital), containing reflections on the role of non-Dutch workers residing and working in Hollande. The report makes explicit reference to the Islamic peril in the Netherlands and concludes by blaming previous national governments for not pursuing a clear immigration policy and regulating the entry of foreign workers. According to the most important party leaders, this failure had led to precarious and unfavorable conditions for the “guest” workers while creating cultural conflicts between immigrants and native workers, thus provoking alarm and social insecurity. Specifically, the PS feared that the presence of guest workers could offer the forces

132  Other left populisms of “capital” the chance to divide labor, thus attenuating class conflict. From this point of view, the reasoning of the Dutch socialists is not much different from that expressed some decades later in Germany by a leader of the Die Linke, recalled in chapter four. As a possible solution to the problem in the 1980s, the PS suggested that foreign workers should formalize a choice: remain in Hollande or return to their country of origin. Should they decide for the first option, the idea is to make Dutch citizenship obligatory after a few years of residency so as to ensure a more homogenous working class with an increased awareness of their rights and duties in Hollande. This invocation becomes a kind of patriotic defense of the Keynesian welfare state model whose bases, according to the Dutch socialists, who were being threatened by the neoliberalist policies adopted in the post-ideological age and by the potential weight of foreign workers in the Netherlands. Naturally, these claims give rise to strong criticism of the PS, accused of using racist and nationalist arguments in support of its positions (March 2011). In terms of electoral results, however, the party’s claims do not produce immediate favorable results. Indeed, until 1989 the PS’s efforts to gain entrance into national political institutions fail regularly. It is not until 1994 that the Dutch Socialist Party manages to elect, for the first time, two representatives to the parliament. Its campaign slogan that year is “Vote Against” (in Dutch: Stem tegen), meaning to vote against the ruling class, both right and left, then governing Hollande with neoliberalist policies, in total harmony with the rest of Europe. Throughout the 1990s, its line of stiff opposition to the national governments obtains encouraging results that allow it to play an increasingly visible role in the national political system (for an analysis of election results, see the next section). During this phase of growth, the party’s leaders are remunerated with a salary equivalent to the average salary in the Netherlands. Anything over that amount is paid over to the party treasury and used to finance party initiatives. This strategy enables the party to mount a very effective campaign against the political “caste” and specifically against the oligarchy of “political careerists” and “social technocrats” (Marijnissen 2006). In the first election cycles of the 2000s, the party achieves appreciable results. The turning point comes in 2006, first in the municipal elections, which the party judges to be an evident political success (doubling the number of its winning candidates),1 and then in the Parliamentary elections, which award the PS an unexpected success, projecting it into third place on the national level. Despite this success, in 2008, Jan Marijnissen gives up his position as partly leader for health reasons, becoming instead the party president. He is replaced by Agnes Kant. These internal shifts, however, are not rewarded in terms of votes. In the 2010 elections, contrary to the party’s expectations of growth, the voters withdraw their support accorded to the party in previous elections, blocking the creation of the (very much hoped for) left-left governing alliance between the Dutch Socialist Party and the Labour Party. Following the defeat, Agnes Kant announces her resignation, and she is replaced by Emile Roemer. Having come close but failed in its attempt to enter the government, in subsequent years that option would not be on the table, relegating the PS to a role of eternal opposition. Nevertheless, on the national level, until 2017 the Dutch Socialists succeed in approaching and

Other left populisms  133 in some instances exceeding one million votes and about 10% of the total. The collapse comes in the European elections of 2019, when, in the face of an important success of the Labour Party (once again the first party on the national level) the Dutch Socialist Party undergoes a serious electoral hemorrhage, losing some three hundred thousand votes and its two seats in the European Parliament.2 In terms of organization, the formula with which the Socialistische Partij “went to the people” is well known, promoting the concept of Arbeidersmacht (workers’ power) through dense networks of tenants’ associations, medical and community organizations, and affiliated trade unions (March 2011). Nevertheless, beyond its strong organizational structure, the PS has been defined, since its foundation, as a populist party (Voerman 2008). This definition is rooted in the empathy developed with “common” citizens and its contribution to orienting political conflict against the “monstrous” Dutch establishment (Lucardie and Voerman 2019). Its populist identity is reinforced in the 1990s, with its critique of the “purple coalition,” in reference to the governing alliance between Labour and the liberal parties. In the early years of the 21st century, the economic crisis, worries over the introduction of the euro, the increasing influx of foreign workers and skepticism toward the European Union accentuate even more the populist content of the Dutch Socialist Party, without, however, this shift being translated into improved election results. The experience of the Belgian Hyper-Identitary PRLP is much different than what we have seen in Hollande. In the early 2000s, the Parti du Travial de Belgique (PTB) (Workers’ Party of Belgium) is the only national party in Belgium, active in Flanders, in Wallonia and in Brussels. The preparatory activities that lead to the birth of the PTB date back to the 1960s, a decade before the party’s foundation. It all begins with the public protests that explode in Europe in 1968. In those years, after breaking with the Communist Party of Belgium (thought to be revisionist and social-democratic), the Belgian student movement joins the demonstrations organized by workers, declares its Maoist sympathies and announces its support for the Chinese cultural revolution. On 5 October 1970, in support of the political activities of the time, the first issue of AMADA (Alle Mact Aan De Arbeiders, All Power to the Workers) is published. The founding group of the party is composed of the persons involved in the publication of the newspaper. In its first phase of life, AMADA takes a rather radical stance and denounces elections as an “electoral carnival”. In subsequent years, however, despite maintaining its critical attitude, AMADA decides to participate in elections, but its performance is negative in terms of numbers of votes. In the elections of 1977, AMADA gets 0.4%, and in 1978 it doubles that to reach 0.8%. These results demonstrate the complexity of the group’s political operation and the difficulty of transforming a social movement into a traditional-style political party. Nevertheless, the party formation process continues. The Workers’ Party of Belgium is founded on 4 November 1979. It is formed by two internal currents: one declaredly socialist and the other officially supportive of a democratic system, in favor of peace and national independence. One of the shared positions of the newly constituted party is the goal of freeing itself of sectarianism and dogmatism in order to become an institutional political force. Nevertheless, the achievement of this objective takes much more time than expected.

134  Other left populisms During the years of the Cold War, the PTB, always closer to China than the Soviet Union, strongly criticizes what it calls the degeneration of socialism in the Soviet Union, embracing the so-called Three World Theory (Yee 1983). This theory maintains that, of the two super powers constituting the first world, the United States and the Soviet Union, the more dangerous super power for world peace is the Soviet Union, while all the other capitalist countries are part of the second world. The third world, instead, includes the countries dominated by the first and second worlds and those that have succeeded in liberating themselves from that domination. This theory, and the tendency to criticize every potential political ally for its position with respect to the Soviet Union, leads the PTB progressively into isolation in the system of international relations. Nevertheless, the Workers’ Party of Belgium continues to propose itself as a working-class party, despite its enduring failure to transform its political program into electoral consensus (for an analysis of election results see the next section). After 1989 and the fall of the Berlin Wall, some outside observers in Belgium consider the political experience of the PTB to be over, and the party is subjected to strong internal and external pressures. It is in these years, paradoxically, that the Workers’ Party of Belgium begins to revise its positions on the USSR, maintaining some criticisms of its political degeneration but defending its role and its conquests in the fields of education, health care, science and culture. Throughout the 1990s, the electoral weight of the PTB remains irrelevant. After the elections of 1999, which confirm the party’s political weightlessness, a harsh internal conflict opens up within the party, targeting the political dogmatism of the party leadership and demanding their replacement. There thus begins, in the early 2000s, a process of profound renewal, intended to rejuvenate the party with respect to its past positions. The first results of the renewal are seen in the results of the 2006 municipal elections, with the election of fifteen representatives in six municipalities. At the end of 2007, the party counts twenty-eight hundred members, and it prepares to organize a party congress, scheduled for the following year, with the intention to develop a new political line and select a new leadership group capable of interpreting the new demands for renewal (PTB 2018). The party slogan is “faire de la politique avec les gens et pas pour les gens!” (Do politics with the people, not for the people). The congress elects a new president, Peter Mertens, an ex-factory worker with a university degree in sociology. The PTB’s newly elected leadership immediately finds itself confronted with the crisis of the Great Recession, which, in 2008, starts to produce negative effects throughout Europe. In 2010 and 2011, powerful protest demonstrations are organized in Belgium with the active participation of the PTB. In this context, the party launches a rather effective political campaign for the implementation of a new special tax on the highest incomes. The PTB continues to grow, obtaining good visibility thanks to its proposals regarding finance, energy, pensions and health care. In the wake of the changes described above, the PTB achieves excellent results in the 2012 local elections, especially in Antwerp and Liège, electing a total of fifty-two local representatives. The most important turning point, however, comes with the 2014 Parliamentary elections, when the party succeeds for the first time in gaining entry to national

Other left populisms  135 public institutions. This is an extraordinary moment for the PTB and a significant surprise for the entire European left. The process of transformation begun in the previous years shows no signs of slowing down. In the autumn of 2014, in the face of new austerity measures approved by the government, the widespread discontent in the country grows remarkably, giving rise to important protest demonstrations. The PTB is especially active in this phase and joins in protest demonstrations in many cities of Belgium together with large numbers of citizens, indignant over the negative effects produced by the economic crisis. In this case, too, as in the other cases described in previous chapters, the participants in these demonstrations are not only workers or members of the working class. The Belgian streets and public squares are filled with people from a plurality of social backgrounds struck in various ways by the results of the crisis. In this context, the PTB party congress of 2015 confirms the line adopted in prior years and decides to follow the same line of march undertaken in the streets and public squares. The objective is to reach out not only to workers but also to the many people who share the discontent with neoliberal economic policies and cuts in public spending, which (according to the party leadership) are worsening the living conditions of a large majority of citizens. The results of this choice are very positive. In the national elections of 2019, the PTB enlarges its parliamentary representation and elects for the second time to run several representatives to the national legislature, making itself a candidate for an important political role to the left of the Socialist Party. In that same year, for the first time in its history, the PTB succeeds in electing a representative to the European Parliament. Continuing with our description of the various forms of Hyper-Identitary PRLPs in Western Europe, the exemplary case of an ethno-regionalist party in this category is the Irish party Sinn Féin (SF), translated from the Gaelic as “We Ourselves,” or “Ourselves Alone.” The name of the party itself is a political manifesto in support of the principle of national political sovereignty. Without attempting to describe the extreme complexity of Sinn Féin, the following paragraphs will trace the party’s political trajectory in the awareness that the party boasts a very long history, not without its delicate and controversial moments, overlapping and interwoven with the events and evolution of contemporary Ireland.3 Ever since its foundation, in 1905, the party has promoted the cause of Irish independence. Its goal is to fight for an autonomous Irish state, free from Great Britain and capable of governing itself. In 1916, Sinn Féin is part of the Easter Rising, espousing the Republican cause.4 Following those events, in 1918, SF obtains seventy-three of the one hundred five Irish seats in the British Parliament in London. Some years later, during the War of Independence (1919–1922) the party supports the Irish Republican Army (IRA) against the British. At the end of that bloody conflict, the Anglo-Irish Treaty is signed (6 December 1921) and takes effect on 31 March 1922, creating an autonomous “dominion” of the British Empire, known as the Irish Free State (subsequently the Irish Republic) and the creation of Northern Ireland (known as Ulster), which remains officially under the formal jurisdiction of Great Britain. All of this creates very deep divisions between

136  Other left populisms the Irish people, divided between those favorable and unfavorable to the agreement. Sinn Féin itself suffers an internal fracture with part of the party rejecting the dismemberment of the unitary state and contesting the active role of Great Britain in the two different parts of Ireland. At this point, a tragic civil war begins (1922–1923), in which the then president of the party, Michael Collins, is killed. The conflict between the Irish and the British is very complex and cannot be reduced to a religious war between Catholics and Protestants, as it is often portrayed in the rest of Europe. It is a political conflict of a nationalistic character, pitting the Irish (prevalently Catholic but also of other religious faiths) against the British (colonizers of the island).5 The conflict is best measured, in fact, as being between the Irish “nationalist community” and the British “unionist community” (Cabello 2006). In this phase, the object of the movement led by Sinn Féin is to attain political independence and national unity by eliminating the border between north and south and unifying the two Irish communities. After losing the civil war, the Irish republican nationalists are forced to witness the division of Ireland into two separate states. In subsequent years, other parties are born from Sinn Féin: Fianna Fáil, led by De Valera (1926) and Fine Gael (1933) led by William Thomas Cosgrave. During the 1930s and 40s, following these split-offs, Sinn Féin is reduced to a sect of aging ideological purists, apparently destined to extinction. Further internal divisions in the 1950s leave the party in conditions of extreme difficulty. The turnaround comes in the 1960s, when the grey eminences and the younger generation of their lieutenants consolidate around a Marxist-inspired political line, giving the party a stronger ideological component. This is the starting point of a mobilization campaign on the heels of which the main leaders of Sinn Féin and a large part of its activists begin an intense effort to strengthen their community ties, becoming members of a large number of clubs and associations and enrolling in universities. The objective is to overcome, by way of the formulation of a hegemonic political ideology, the ethnic and cultural contraposition that had so long characterized the Anglo-Irish conflict, with the intention of implementing an essentially socialist program that would demonstrate the socio-economic advantages of Irish unification in a single sovereign state. Thanks in part to the leadership of Thomas McGiolla, the party succeeds in this period in blocking the violent acts and military activities of the IRA. The truce lasts until the end of the 1960s to then be brusquely interrupted by the re-application of repressive measures by the British army. The date of 30 January 1972 is marked by the events of Bloody Sunday, which will remain forever in the annals of Irish history.6 The years that follow are years of hardship and extreme armed violence. Calm is restored at the end of the 1980s, following another important event. On 1 March 1981, Bobby Sands, the commander of the IRA, then in prison, orders and himself undertakes a hunger strike that will last seven months and will involve many Irish rebel leaders and provoke the deaths of ten people, including Sands. He becomes a national hero. The sacrifice of Sands and his companions, and the consequent intense international pressures, have a much stronger influence on the history of the country than the many military operations conducted by the IRA in previous years.

Other left populisms  137 Following these events, Sinn Féin begins a political transformation starting in the early 1980s that will see it become a leading player in a process of profound change. Whereas in the past there had been a majoritarian conviction that armed struggle offered the only possible solution to the British-Irish conflict, the party begins to believe in and pursue a political solution. The main interpreter of this line is Gerry (Gerard) Adams, the most representative of a new generation of political leaders. Adams becomes president of Sinn Féin in 1983, and in that same year he runs for parliament and is elected. Under his leadership, Sinn Féin makes a commitment to full political and institutional participation, abandoning the strategy of abstention that had characterized its parliamentary conduct up to this time. Gerry Adams promotes the party’s active presence in local communities and commits himself to a tough battle to increase public welfare services in favor of the population, especially in terms of jobs, health care, education, welfare assistance and social security. Adams will retain the presidency of the party for thirty-five years, until 2018, bringing to completion a slow but continuous transformation which frees the SF from the influence exercised in the past by its more violent factions and building a party that is controlled exclusively by its political leaders. The transformation leads Sinn Féin to pursue a strategy of peace, described in detail by Adams himself (2005) in his political memoirs. In 1985 and 1987, SF presents two strategic documents, titled, respectively, “A Scenario for Peace” and “Towards a Strategy for Peace”. The documents contain a declaration that defines armed struggle as the choice of the past. Continuing in this direction, the party approves, in 1992, a political manifesto titled, “Towards a Lasting Peace in Ireland”. The peace process does not stop. In 1998 the so-called Good Friday Agreement is signed, also known as the “Belfast Agreement,” subsequently ratified by popular referendum by both the citizens of Northern Ireland and the citizens of the Irish Republic. The agreement is a definitive turning point in the direction of peace, providing for the regulation of institutional relations between the two Irelands and the United Kingdom. After three decades characterized by armed conflict and thousands of victims, the definitive act of peace between Ireland and Great Britain is dated 2005, with the disarmament declaration on the part of the IRA. Apart from the international diplomacy and the political leaders that brought about this result (Tony Blair, among others) the end of the hostilities is a personal victory for Gerry Adams, architect of the peace strategy dating back to the 1970s. In 2018, having brought to completion, in the party and in the country, his historical assignment, the foremost leader of Sinn Féin steps down, handing off the leadership of the party to Mary Lou McDonald. Her task will be to manage the next historical and political phase in the attempt to maintain a central role for the party in the internal affairs of the Irish government. Sinn Féin is not, however, the only example of an independence party among the parties of the European populist left. The ethno-regionalist parties within the category of Hyper-identitary PRLPs also include the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP). Since the SSP lacks one of the three prerequisites for inclusion in our research study, it will not be treated at length in this volume. Politically active until the early 2000s, the party has elected representatives to the Scottish Parliament in

138  Other left populisms Glasgow but has not elected any of its candidates to the British Parliament of Westminster. Beyond the interest the party holds for research purposes, however, it must be admitted that after its period of growth in the early 2000s, it then fell into a deep crisis leading to its political extinction, having failed since its initial success to elect its candidates to any parliamentary assembly, neither in Scotland nor in Great Britain or Brussels.

Results Let’s look now at the election results recorded between 1989 and 20197 on the part of all the Hyper-Identitarian PRLPs considered in this chapter (Dutch Socialist Party, Workers’ Party of Belgium and Sinn Féin). Before considering the Irish case, we can note that the Dutch and Belgian parties have achieved results that are not insignificant, though inferior to those recorded by PRLPs in Greece, Spain and France. The following tables report, in detail the results for each single party. We begin with the analysis of Table 8.1, showing the numbers of the Socialist Party in the Netherlands. In this case, after years in which the party maintains a relatively modest role in the national political system, the year 2006 is a turning point, when the SP is probably rewarded by a particularly alarmed climate of opinion in response to the perceived Islamic peril after the attack on Theo van Gogh.8 Two years after that attack, the radicalization of political debate allows the Dutch Table 8.1  Electoral Trends (Socialist Party in the Netherlands) Parliamentary Elections Year

Votes

European elections %

Seats

Year

1989 1994

38,789 118,769

0.4 1.3

0 2

1989 1994

1998

393,703

3.5

5











Votes

%

Seats

0.7 1.3

0 0







34,332 55,311

1999

178,642

5.0

1

2002

560,447

5.9

9









2003

609,723

6.3

9









2004

332,326

7.0

2









2006

1,630,803

16.6

25









2009

323,269

7.1

2

15









2010

924,696

2012

9.8

909,853





2017 –



9.7 –

955,633

9.1 –

Source: Ministry of the Interior

15











2014

458,079

9.6

2

14 –

– 2019

– 185,224

– 3.4

– 0

Other left populisms  139 Socialist Party (already critical of immigration before 2004) to exceed one million votes, winning nearly 17% of the vote and twenty-five seats in the parliament. Starting in 2006 and until the elections of 2017, propelled by the negative effects of the Great Recession, the SP becomes an important party in the national political system, even though it never succeeds in entering a national coalition government. The party’s biggest difficulties arrive with the European elections of 2019, when the party appears to lose ground to the Labour Party, failing to elect even a single representative to Strasbourg. Moving from Hollande to Belgium (Table 8.2), the scenario is different but comparable. The Workers’ Party of Belgium is a recently established party, initially quite insignificant in the national political system. After the economic and financial crisis of the early 2000s, however, by abandoning its Maoist tendencies and taking on the populist anti-establishment rhetoric, the PTB becomes an increasingly important party on the national level. It achieves solid electoral results in 2014 and 2019 that allow it to elect representatives to both the federal and European parliaments. We come now to the analysis of the electoral performance of Sinn Féin. Table 8.3 shows the results achieved by the party in every election: Northern Ireland Parliament, Parliament of the Republic of Ireland, the British Parliament, and the European Parliament. The numbers clearly show that the “God Friday Agreement” signed in 1998 and the peace process begun under the presidency of Gerry Adams also have a positive effect on the electoral level. Certainly, favorable in Northern Ireland and even more favorable in the Republic of Ireland. From 1997 on, the Table 8.2  Electoral Trends (Workers’ Party of Belgium) Federal Parliamentary Elections

European elections

Year

Votes

%

Seats

Year

Votes

– 1991

– 30,491

– 0.5

– 0

1989 –









– 0



1995

34,247

0.7

1994

1999

30,930

0.6

0

1999

2003

20,825

0.2

0



– 2007 –

– 56,167 –





0.8 –

59,270 – 22,038

0 –

101,088

1.6

0

251,289 584,621

3.7 8.6

2 12

0.5 –

0 –

1.0

0





0.4

0 –

44,452

0.7

0





68,540

1.0

0









2014 2019

234,718 566,274

3.5 8.4

0 1





2009

2010

Seats





2004

2014 2019

Source: Ministry of the Interior

29,778

%







162,758 23.5 24





180,573 26.2 28







2003





2007

































142,858 17.7 18



1998





116,377 15.5 17

































45,614 2.5





27,809 1.6

20,003 1.2

%



















2007 143,410 6.9







2002 121,020 6.5







1997





1992

1989

Votes

Dáil Éireann Elections

Seats Year







%

1996

Votes

Year

Northern Ireland Elections

Table 8.3  Electoral Trends (Sinn Féin)



4







5







1





0

0





– –





– –



























2005 174,530 0.6







2001 175,933 0.7









24.3







21.7





16.1





10.0







5







4





2





0

2009





2004







1999







1994



1989

25.8 1 11.2 0

126,184(NI) 205,613(RI)



– –





11.1 1

197,715(RI) –

26.3 1









144,541(NI)

– –





6.3 0

88,165(RI) –

17.3 0

117,643(NI)





– –

– –





3.0 0

33,823(RI) –

9.9 0

55,215(NI)

35,923(RI)*** 2.2 0 – – –

17.3 0

48,914(NI)

Seats

%

Votes

European elections

%UK* %NI** Seats Year

78,291 0.2



Votes

1997 126,921 0.4





1992



Seats Year

UK Parliamentary Elections







166,785 24.0 28

224,245 27.9 27



2016

2017



   *  UK: United Kingdom;   **  NI: Northern Ireland; ***  RI: Republic of Ireland.

Source: Ministry of Interior























– –









9.9 14





– –

– –



2016 295,319 13.8 23





2011 220,661



178,224 26.3 29



2011









– –













2017 238,915 0.7



2015 176,232 0.6





2010 171,942 0.6



29.4



24.5





25.5



7



4





5

2019







2014





22.2 1 11.7 1

126,951(NI) 196,001(RI)



– –











19.5 3

323,300(RI) –

25.5 1







159,813(NI)







142  Other left populisms party’s improvement in elections for the Dublin Parliament is continuous, up to the point of encountering an even more favorable period in correspondence with the economic crisis of the early 2000s. Specifically, in the 2016 elections, Sinn Féin rises to just under three hundred thousand votes, almost 14% of the total, and elects twenty-six members of parliament. As with the Dutch Socialist Party, so, too, with Sinn Féin, the difficulties arrive with the 2019 European elections. In this case, too, the campaigns of other populist parties in the Republic of Ireland are effective in limiting the potential advantages attributed to Sinn Féin (van Kessel 2015). Faced with the unchanged conditions in the relationship between Ireland and Great Britain it will be the task of Mary Lou McDonald, as president of the party since 2018, to try to construct conditions favorable to the growth of Sinn Féin in the XXI century.

Notes 1 The party’s success in municipal elections also accelerated even more its de-radicalization, leading the PS to become part of governing coalitions together with the Labour Party or the Green Left (and not only), in various large cities (March 2011). 2 Source: Ministry of the Interior. 3 For a more detailed and profound history of the party, readers are referred to some more specialized texts, including: Laffan (1999), Maillot (2005), Bean (2007), Jones (2017). 4 The Easter Rising was an attempt by Irish Republican activists to win independence from the United Kingdom by force of arms. The revolt, which in large part was organized by the Irish Republican Brotherhood, lasted from 24 to 29 April 1916 before it was put down. The leaders of the revolt were tried by a military court and subsequently executed. Despite its military failure, the episode acquired a heroic significance and is considered one of the most important moments of Irish history. 5 The colonial conquest of Ireland was led by Oliver Cromwell and conducted by the British army (New Model Army). The army landed in Ireland in 1649, and the conquest was concluded in 1653. 6 This expression refers to the incident in which the British army opens fire against a crowd of unarmed civil rights demonstrators, with numerous dead and wounded. 7 All election results for the Hyper-Identitarian PRLPs before 1989 are not considered in the book’s analysis and have thus been excluded from the summary tables presented hereinafter. 8 Theo van Gogh was a Dutch actor and director (descendent of the brother of the celebrated painter Vincent), killed on 2 November 2004 by an Islamic fundamentalist as a vendetta against Van Gogh’s film Submission.

9

Inside – the internal dimension

Organization Internal organization is one of the main problems facing political parties in the post-ideological age, and it remains an unresolved dilemma for all of the PRLPs in Western Europe (Johansson 2014). Indeed, the decline of the functional model of mass parties (Duverger 1951) opens the way to a profound change (Wolinetz 2002). Starting with the scheme of the “catch-all-party” (Kirchheimer 1966) and going all the way to the “cartel party” (Katz and Mair 1995, 2009), the transformation gives rise to numerous labels corresponding to just as many organizational models. In the pages that follow we describe and analyze the organizational schemes of the European Populist Radical Left Parties, making a sharp distinction between Neo-Identitarian PRLPs (founded at the beginning of the 21st century) and the Post- and Hyper-Identitarian PRLPs (from an older generation). The Neo-Identitarian PRLPs, generated by the critique of traditional party politics and the desire to make a definitive break with the past, adopt an organizational structure typical of the “anti-party parties” (Mudde 1996). This is a different model from all past models and is characteristic of several neo-populist political formations (both right and left). The main criticism advanced by the anti-party parties against the classical parties regards the attempt to effect a division of interests at the expense of the development of a homogenous and shared political culture. For this reason, in most cases, the anti-party parties refuse to label themselves “parties” in order to affirm their diversity with respect to the mainstream party models originating in the 19th century (Daalder 1992, 2002; De Petris and Poguntke 2015). The formal refusal of the traditional role of the political party as an instrument of mass participation, founded on the principle of political representation and intermediation and excluding a priori experimentation with more advanced forms of direct democracy, increases the distance between the anti-party parties and parties founded in the 1900s (and their political heirs). These older parties are not always effective at bringing together and representing the demands advanced by new social groups and are incapable of interpreting within the old political fractures the more recent social cleavages produced by globalization (Kriesi et al. 2008; Hawkins and Rovira Kaltwasser 2019). If not politically activated, the widespread anti-party sentiment

144  Inside – the internal dimension among the citizenry could remain latent or take on various deleterious forms, such as abstention, distrust, detachment and radical protest (Poguntke and Scarrow 1996). Nevertheless, in given historical conditions, when some “political entrepreneurs of anti-politics” manage to interpret the contingent phase in the indicated direction, new forms of political organization emerge, characterized by an advanced process of de-ideologization and by relatively loose organizational structure (Poguntke 1996). All of this implies the necessary reconsideration of the relationship between Neo-Identitarian PRLPs and anti-system parties (Sartori 1976). Indeed, far from opposing the democratic system on behalf of a revolutionary ideology, the antiparty parties (and along with them the Neo-Identitarian PRLPs) accept the rules of the game imposed by existing political regimes, fighting against the old party oligarchies in order to stimulate and nurture grassroots democratic participation. In such conditions, while democracy remains a value, the negative value for the anti-party parties lies in the desire to conserve the existing political power balance centered on the reproduction of a ruling class that represents only the interests of narrow power elites (Viviani 2019). Founded on the ample use of on-line communication tools (this aspect will be addressed further in the next section), the anti-party parties propose innovative forms and methods of political participation. Mobilizations, both real and virtual, compensate for the lack of a traditional party membership, ideologically faithful to a political project, as had been the case with 20th-century parties. In this way, the party becomes “light but powerful” (Gerbaudo 2019). It is light in terms of its organizational structure, characterized by a process of political disintermediation based on the visibility and exposition of the leader. It is powerful because it is constituted by a strong mobilization from the bottom up, based on slogans and watchwords widely shared by both members and sympathizers. The effects of this political restructuring are essentially two. The first is the constitution of a “superbase” of numerous interconnected subjects through horizontal activities and forms of active political participation not averse to bottom-up experimentation. The superbase of these parties is not rigidly structured as was typical of old parties and enjoys greater internal flexibility. On the other hand, the second innovation, together with the superbase, is the contextual formation of a true and proper “hyper-leadership,” recognized in the figure of the party secretary and/or party president, capable of working effectively top-down. The leader enjoys broad powers within the organization and is the sole proponent of the party’s political line, shared only by a restricted group of persons, politically and personally faithful to the leader. All of this determines a power vacuum between the hyper-leadership and the superbase, which ends up weakening the intermediate structures of the party, making it very difficult to form a political leadership class at the various institutional levels. This, in turn, leads to risks of distortion of internal democracy, with a strong imbalance of power between apex and base, to the advantage of the hyper-leader, with the superbase destined to play a supporting role (Damiani 2018a). On the empirical level, among the parties of the European radical populist left, organizational forms conceived according to this scheme can be seen in

Inside – the internal dimension  145 Podemos and France insoumise. A comparative analysis of their party charters shows that both parties are committed to constructing an organizational model aimed at integrating the dynamics we have just described (top-down and bottomup). They attempt to achieve this through the deployment of a strong leadership capable of relying on an ample audience of citizen-electors, willing to become activated on specific themes and issues that are politically important for the destiny of the political formation to which they belong. Nevertheless, both Podemos and France insoumise, with respect to the great political and mediatic exposure of their respective leaders (Pablo Iglesias and Jean Luc Mélenchon), are effectively missing a political leadership class in the intermediate space of their organizational structure. This missing intermediate level of leadership would be capable of playing a role of intermediation between the apex and the base in order to make the structure of their political organization more organic. This condition, however, far from being considered a structural limit that necessarily needs to be overcome, comes to be assumed as a precondition tending to favor the construction of a new political organization that is streamlined, flexible and capable of acting swiftly on the national and international level. Moreover, this organizational model is thought to be better able than traditional 20th-century parties (and their political heirs) to adapt its own political action to the evolution of external events. Within the category of Neo-Identitarian PRLPs, however, not all of the parties mentioned qualify as typical anti-party parties, and there are some very important exceptions. Indeed, insofar as it is founded on a model of political organization typical of the Old Left, though still inserted transitorily in the category of NeoIdentitarian PRLPs, Syriza presents a very different organizational structure, comparable to those of Post- and Hyper-Identitarian PRLPs. In this case, utilizing the same terminology adopted to define the category of anti-party parties, we propose a new model of political parties, defined as “proparty parties”. This type of political organization sets in motion a process of transformation that combines change and conservation. The goal is to renew in the present without ignoring the past. By learning from the experience of the mass parties, the organizations defined as pro-party parties are political organizations that set in motion a process of innovation capable of interpreting demands for transformation without completely upsetting the existing internal structure. The main differences with respect to the previous cases are two. First, all of the various declinations of the present forms of pro-party parties abandon the archetype of the 20th-century ideological party. They become pro-system parties, willing to accept the confines of democracy as the only dimension of their political action. These parties, unlike ideological parties, are more interested in short-term pragmatic solutions in the political system within which they operate, rather than consuming their time and energy in endless theoretical disputes about the nature of real socialism (March 2011). The anti-capitalist nature typical of traditional Marxist parties is transformed into opposition to neoliberal globalization, taking on the physiognomy of anti-establishment parties (Schedler 1996; Abedi 2004). The goal is to replace the governing political class, thought to be incapable of

146  Inside – the internal dimension responding to the challenges of the contingent political phase, with a new political generation capable of providing solutions to principle contemporary issues and problems. Second, these parties permanently abandon the principle of democratic centralism typical of 20th-century Communist parties in favor of a new decisional model based on the principle of internal transparency and effective participation by all concerned in the ongoing decision-making process. The distinctive element of democratic centralism was its prohibition of currents or internal factions within the same party. The debate and confrontation between different opinions had to remain within the closed rooms of the party without any outside exposure. There was an unwritten rule that, once a decision was made, that decision had to be sustained in every forum even by those who had expressed a different view. This mechanism was transmitted from the top (the central committee) down to the bottom level (section or cell) of the party. Obedience to the dominant positions was indisputable. The party was more important than any individual party member. Whatever the party leadership decided could not be called into question by any of the party’s members. Democratic centralism, in its classical form, disappeared with the crisis of the communist parties. After the fall of the Berlin Wall (and in some cases before) and the decline of the regimes of real socialism, the new parties of the European left, far from adopting such a rule, are founded on the principle of democratic pluralism. They rely on open and frank debate among all internal factions, organized in the light of day, sometimes even conceived in competition among themselves, engaged in a struggle for the election of party leaders and occupation of the principle positions of power. The abandonment of democratic centralism was an inevitable choice after the crisis of traditional ideologies, the decline of the mass party model and the disappearance of a final goal of history capable of justifying every form of personal sacrifice. In light of these changes, the category of pro-party parties is distinguished by the pluralism of its ideas. The political heirs of the communist party, despite maintaining a comparable organizational structure, begin to work on constructing a container capable of integrating political cultures that, while sharing common values and a common social imaginary, also display differences of opinion and approach. These various political points of view would have found it nearly impossible to coexist while fully respecting the principle of democratic centralism. It inevitably follows, therefore, that the pluralism of ideas, incompatible with all forms of decisional rigidity and interested in guaranteeing political citizenship to all the different viewpoints involved, becomes the sine qua non for the construction of a unified political subject. Thus, democratic centralism is replaced by majority rule. All decisions are adopted in the respect of the rules of democracy, fully conscious of the risk of the division that could happen (and which promptly does happen) between the various internal factions or currents in competition with one another (Damiani 2016). This organizational model, in addition to characterizing the above-mentioned founding process of Syriza, is also part of the functional scheme, outlined in the party charter, that the German PDS and Die Linke decide to adopt after 1989.

Inside – the internal dimension  147 These are parties which, beyond their criticism of mainstream parties, no longer believe in the possibility of achieving socialist palingenesis. They accept the pluralism of ideas and the rules of the democratic process, and advance, within the democratic system, anti-establishment demands in strong contrast with the governing class in power, In both the Greek and German cases, these characteristics bring about the conditions that allow the parties to achieve their main electoral successes. In Greece they even allow Syriza to govern the country. By way of this scheme of political organization, the Coalition of the Radical Left succeeds in carrying forward the battles conducted in the months and years following the economic and financial crisis of the Great Recession. The coalition provides its political movement with a reliable, functional and capillary structure capable of implementing policies of mutual aid and promoting demands for political transformation throughout the entire country. A similar process of transformation, though with somewhat different timing and strategies, also characterizes the political evolution of the Dutch Socialist Party, the Workers’ Party of Belgium and the Sinn Féin. These cases, too, concern parties founded as mass parties that, after 1989, set in motion a process of transformation that leads them to adopt more flexible structures, lowering the level of their ideological content and giving up democratic socialism, without, however, renouncing altogether the classic structure of the political party and the traditional organizational model. To summarize our analysis so far, the Western European PRLPs undergo a process of political hybridization that results in two different organizational models. The category of anti-party parties pursues an organizational scheme comparable to the model of the society they propose to construct. These are parties founded on the desire to attribute greater decision-making power to their leadership supported by the active participation of all their followers. In this case, the prevailing model is the light party, flexible and open to political transformations in constant evolution, parties that take on a different form depending on the contingent circumstances. On the other hand, the category that we have defined as pro-party parties embodies the more rigid organization of the centralized party, capable of functioning as an electoral machine inspired by a traditional political model. The organization of these parties consists of functionaries and expert professionals who govern the party from a position of strong internal power exercised over a membership that is generally faithful to the predefined political project. Despite a persistent level of heterogeneity, the Western European PRLPs share a common destiny. The parties of the radical populist left all abandon the more precarious forms of electoral cartels, political coalitions, plural parties, and front parties (Damiani 2016). They assume – despite the differences outlined in the preceding pages – the typology of a unified party, internally composite, comprising a diversity of political philosophies and sensibilities, but nonetheless cohesive, with a leader, a single leadership structure, a single campaign platform and a single party headquarters. For many other parties of the non-populist radical left, these conditions are not commonly shared (Damiani 2018b).

148  Inside – the internal dimension

Participation In light of the characteristics attributed to Western European PRLPs, the theme of political participation takes on special interest. Despite the variety of their experiences, all the populist parties, including those on the radical left, share an acute sense of dissatisfaction with “politics as usual” (Rovira Kaltwasser et al. 2017; de la Torre 2018). In this regard, their goal is to give voice to the popular resentment of the governing elites. This section will attempt to identify and describe the new instruments of political participation that Populist Radical Left Parties have sometimes used together with the more traditional tools of the 20th century. The various forms of political participation and all of their respective devices can be divided into three different categories: 1) Consensus Mobilization; 2) Consensual Participation; 3) Protest Reactions.1 Consensus Mobilization includes all forms of participation aimed at mobilizing the membership, or part of it, and is directed exclusively to creating consensus for a specific political platform. Consensual Participation refers, instead, to the mobilization of a wider segment of the population, which includes the members of movements and parties but normally extends to politically contiguous portions of the population, not necessarily enrolled in a specific political formation. Protest Reactions correspond, in turn, to different forms of protest from the street demonstrations traditionally conceived and enacted in the past. These new forms of protest involve people from various social strata, with differing levels of education and cultural background, and discordant worldviews. The participants shared point of departure is their common view of the incapacity of the ruling classes to defend their interests or to respond to their problems, needs and demands (Laclau 2005). The “popular demands” advanced by these people make it possible to construct a new “people” with respect to historical protest movements (composed of groups of people with a high degree of internal homogeneity). All of this gives rise to new types of social demands. In the era of PRLPs, participation by way of the classic forms of mass democracy, with organized parties deeply rooted in local communities and a broad base of members and activists unified by highly structured, predefined ideologies gradually but steadily declined. These forms have given way to other modes of consensus-building, proper to parties and movements of a different political nature, with a different organizational model and different values and identities than the parties of the 20th century. In the absence of the traditional social classes, in a time of increasing individualization and social fragmentation, the forms of participation of the new politics are aimed at creating modalities of consensus in profoundly different cultural, political and institutional conditions than those of the past. Based on these considerations, our intention is to construct an ideal-typical model that represents the previously mentioned variables (Consensus Mobilization; Consensual Participation; Protest Reactions) in a predefined territorial level, able to distinguish the instruments of political participation according to their employment on: 1) local and subnational levels; 2) national and supranational levels. From the intersections of the different variables taken into examination it becomes possible

Inside – the internal dimension  149 to identify and describe all the instruments of political participation utilized by European PRLPs at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries as shown in Table 9.1. Most of the instruments indicated in Table 9.1 are not reserved exclusively to Populist Radical Left Movements and Parties. They are also frequently used by other political organizations, populist and otherwise (Boatright 2018). Nevertheless, the specific use (often combined) to which they are put by PRLPs confers on these instruments an original connotation that must be further examined. The first row of Table 9.1 represents the various kinds of primary elections included in the Consensus Mobilization category and organized and held both on the local/subnational level and the national/supranational level. Primary elections can be defined either as “leader selection” or “candidate selection” processes (Rahat and Hazan 2001). In the first case, the winner is a leader of a specific political organization, while in the second case, the primary selects the candidate believed most suitable to occupy monocratic institutional offices. In political parties rooted in the mass party model, the selection of both figures was affected through the traditional procedures of political parties. After the crisis of the traditional parties, selection of party leadership and candidates for office is generally affected through accreditation procedures very different from those used in the past. Hence the recourse to primary elections to legitimize the internal selection process, held for each selection of party leadership or candidates for institutional offices. In most cases, the right to vote is held by registered members of a certain political formation, which decides to entrust the selection of its political and institutional leadership to the democratic election process. As a result of this process, the winning candidate is given a direct investiture that legitimates his/her position of power within his/her political organization, making the winner of the election a first among equals with the right to exercise the full powers of the office (Damiani and Mazzoni 2017). In the same way, candidates for major monocratic offices are named through an electoral investiture that precedes their institutional investiture. The instruments of Consensual Participation are a different matter. These are instruments with a high degree of political inclusion, through which stakeholders (in this case the accent falls not on rights-holding citizen electors but rather on interest-holding citizen-customers) are placed in a position to express their opinions on strategic issues for the government of their own political community. Table 9.1 Instruments of Participation Used by European Populist Radical Left Movements and Parties  

Local and Subnational Level

National and Supranational Level

Mobilization of Consensus Consensual Participation

Primary Elections Inclusive Practices

Protest Reactions

Community’s Protests

Primary Elections Referendum and Consultations National and Global Protests

Source: author’s elaboration

150  Inside – the internal dimension In mass society, models of consensual political participation were constructed by relying on intermediate bodies, which were particularly effective at mediating between individual and collective interests. In the post-ideological age, on the other hand, the instruments of consensual participation activate, for the most part, one portion of the stakeholders related to an interest, often defined as a single-issue interest, that represents one portion of the broader political interest. In this context, the “inclusive practices”, comprise the various forms of so-called deliberative and participatory democracy (Akkerman 2001). These modes of participation attempt to involve individual citizens in the policy-making process in order to counterbalance the defense of special interests on the part of governing elites from and across the political spectrum and at all levels of government. This same function is also attributed to “referenda and consultations” requested and organized on specific issues regarding determinate and circumscribed topics. Both referenda and consultations can be either internal or external to political parties. In any event, with regard to both inclusive practices and referenda or consultations, the “ratio” is the same: direct appeal to the people so that they can make decisions on all the matters that concern them. Finally, the last type of participatory instruments represented in Table 9.1 are “Protest Reactions”, understood as special forms of participation which have appeared on the scene in many European countries at both the local and national/supranational levels. Contrary to the traditional 20th-century protest reactions (such as demonstrations, marches, strikes and picketing) the new modes of protest involve heterogeneous groups of citizens rather than citizenactivists politically associated with a party or social movement. These new forms of collective protest may arise from effects determined by the so-called “Nimby” syndrome (Not in my Back Yard) or some comparable phenomenon. Such protests may be expressed through violent action (sabotage, blockage of roads or railroad lines, public disorder), or by way of non-violent demonstrations aimed at producing a climate of public opinion favorable to the proposed changes. “National and global protests” display similar characteristics. These sometimes-massive protests concerning national and international issues may use instruments that are violent and/or non-violent. In analytical terms, the new characteristics of these forms of protest regard the composition of the protesters (heterogeneous rather than sharing collective interests) and the use of instruments of direct democracy. These latter are conceived as more effective substitutes for the traditional intermediation that all representative democracies entrust to a class of political professionals representing the internal balance of power within the party system. Having presented the taxonomy of the new instruments of political participation used by PRLPs (sometimes together with old means of political participation), we now present some exemplary cases that illustrate the concrete recourse to such instruments by the parties examined in this volume. With regard to national-level primary elections, the best-known example among European left populist parties is the Spanish party Podemos. On the occasions of its two Asambleas Ciudadanas, held in Madrid in 2014 and 2017, the election

Inside – the internal dimension  151 of the party leader (secretary general) is entrusted to a sort of primary election (despite some atypical elements compared to the ideal-typical model). In both circumstances, Podemos refuses to organize a classical party congress like those of the traditional parties. It is decided to organize an on-line vote of all party members, asking them to choose the political project, the corresponding political platform and the consequent secretary general among the previously nominated candidates. This is an election process that confers on the elected candidate considerable decision-making power deriving from the legitimation of the consensus expressed by the party’s base. On both occasions. Pablo Iglesias is elected as party leader and entrusted with broad political power. Based on his role “as first among equals”, conferred on the leader by the party charter and by the party’s membership, Iglesias enjoys a privileged position. Nevertheless, that privilege may at the same time become a source of internal conflicts and thus a catalyst of repeated party splits. In the wake of Iglesias’s election, in fact, Podemos witnesses the exit from the party of its number two, Iñigo Errejón, who resigns (together with a group of those closest to him) in January 2019 following strong disagreements with the leadership of the political organization of which he had been one of the founders (see Chapter 5). Apart from Podemos, however, the other PRLPs do not organize their congresses in the same way. The Spanish party is the most outstanding in terms of political innovation. For all the other European Populist Radical Left Parties, the national party congresses are organized in the traditional manner. The only anomaly among the PRLPs examined in this volume is France insoumise, which was not founded by a party congress, nor by any other participatory instrument, but rather by the express will of its leader, who in the course of the party’s first three years of life did not feel the need to hold a single national congress. When it comes to “inclusive practices”, however, the case of France insoumise is the most interesting among the European PRLPs. The formation led by JeanLuc Mélenchon has activated instruments with a high degree of political inclusion, among them the so-called Atelier de loi (literally, laboratory of the law). Based on citizen complaints or reports of problems with respect to specific themes (quality of public services, environment and common goods, renewable energy, management of the water supply, public housing, condominium fees, labor policy, anti-tax evasion policies and so on), the LFI has promoted a copious program of public meetings, held in numerous cities throughout the country, with the goal of improving community education. The aim is to bring together in popular assemblies as many people as possible to draft bills, local and/or national, based on the personal experiences of citizens and refined through a process of collective reflection, proposing legislative solutions to the problems raised. The results of this process of public discussion and debate are uploaded to a dedicated on-line platform and subjected to an amendment process open to all those enrolled on the platform. The final text of the bill is presented to the party’s parliamentary representatives who decide whether or not to propose it to the parliament. Another initiative of France insoumise concerns the campaign platform on which Jean-Luc Mélenchon ran for president in 2017. The platform was the fruit of a collective grassroots drafting

152  Inside – the internal dimension process, with a large contribution from citizens, later condensed into a document titled, L’Avenir en commun (The Future in Common). The numbers gathered by LFI indicate more than three thousand single contributions, fourteen public hearings and seventy-seven thousand people involved in the platform approval by way of an on-line vote.2 As concerns referenda, the most important case comes from Greece. On 5 July 2015, as discussed in the second part of the book, the Syriza government, installed in January of the same year and led by Alexis Tsipras, called a consultative referendum to ask Greek citizens to express themselves on the debt bailout plan proposed by the country’s international creditors. With more than 61% of the vote, the majority of the population rejected the plan, giving the head of the government a mandate to refuse the agreement proposed by the “Troika.” Though things turned out somewhat differently in the months and years following the vote, Tsipras had attempted to appeal directly to the people to make a decision on a question in which they were directly involved (for a description and analysis of the referendum please see Chapter 6). The PRLPs we have examined also show numerous examples of internal consultation. One case that raised a lot of public interest is the consultation organized by Podemos to ask its members whether to maintain Pablo Iglesias and Irene Montero (his companion, mother of their two children, and Podemos’ whip in the Chamber of Deputies) as the leaders of the Spanish movement-party. The controversy erupted following the couple’s purchase of a luxurious villa outside Madrid. When the news became public, the members of Podemos began to ask themselves if Iglesias and Montero, the expression of a political force that was the heir of the indignados movement and that proposed to represent the generation sin futuro (without a future) could allow themselves to live in an expensive private home worth €600,000. Because of the embarrassment that explodes in that moment, the two decide to ask directly of the movement membership what they should do. The internal consultation is thus scheduled to be held in May 2018, subjecting their private decision to the judgment of the almost half a million citizens with the right to vote. Some 188,176 people participate in the on-line vote, with 64% voting in favor of the couple Iglesias-Montero. After the vote, the two decide to stay on as leaders of the movement-party.3 Apart from the gossip and scandal, the question takes on considerable importance because it demonstrates how the personal leadership of a populist leader (in this Iglesias more than Montero) is always strictly tied to the consensus, often rising to levels of a plebiscite, of the membership. In this case, the members of Podemos formally hold in their hands the political fate of their leader and of the entire political movement. With regard to “Community Protests” and “National and Global Protests”, understood as new forms of protest compared to the past (different in the way they are convened and organized and for the composition of the protesters), the most noted examples are those that led to the birth of the Neo-Identitarian PRLPs. The Greek Syntagma Square Movement of the early 2000s, the Spanish indignados (or anti-austerity) movement, constituted in 2011, and the French Nuit Debout movement in 2016 against the Loi Travail (Jobs Act) of the Valls government under the

Inside – the internal dimension  153 presidency of François Hollande can be considered as belonging to this category. In 2018, also in France, another comparable protest movement appears. This is the Yellow Vests movement, constituted spontaneously to protest against a hike in gasoline prices and protracted for many months after that around a political platform, comparable in part to the program of the radical populist left. This movement is discussed in Chapter 7. All of these cases are especially complex social movements, without a precise formal organization or strong coordination and without a formalized leadership. They are social movements constituted by people coming from different social and cultural backgrounds, whose demands, claims, requests and needs are very different from one another and arise from social groups not necessarily characterized by a high degree of internal homogeneity. Such new forms of political participation, some peaceful and some violent, alongside more traditional forms of protest, are certainly something new that also characterizes the PRLPs in Western Europe.

Leadership The theme of leadership is central to any discussion of populism. It would be mistaken, however, to think that leadership and populism overlap perfectly (Viviani 2017). Such a formulation would require the dilation and distortion of both concepts, leaving them unamenable to heuristic explanation. The personalization of politics is a long-term phenomenon, which does not coincide with the rise of populism and which appears (earlier) in continuity with the crisis of liberal and representative democracy, the decline of traditional parties, the development of the mass media and the revolution in political communication (Manin 1995; Mény and Surel 2001; Weyland 2017). Indeed, some instances of populism can emerge, and have effectively emerged, on left and right, even in the absence of personalized leadership (Mudde and Rovira Kaltwasser 2012). Empirically, one need only recall the already-cited Occupy Wall Street movement in the USA and the Anti-austerity movement in Spain, or the Syntagma Square movement in Greece. These are social movements, some of them quite large, which never expressed a leader, or an absolute chief, but still dominated the international public stage with politically consequential effects and results. Nevertheless, it is true that the populist parties examined in this volume, especially the most recent ones, tend to be strictly correlated to the appearance of a strong leader and to the dynamics of what Paul Taggart (2000) has defined as “politics and personality.” We can consider the populism of the European radical left parties and a social and cultural phenomenon constituted on the interaction between leader and people. This interaction, in turn, produces a process of identitary construction that functions primarily through opposition, starting with the identification of a common enemy, an “other” different from “us”, capable of defining the specific nature of the political platform represented by the leader (Ostiguy 2017). On both right and left, the appearance of the populist leader is the fruit of a capacity to construct the people (Laclau 2005). The people do not exist in nature,

154  Inside – the internal dimension much less so a people of the left. In post-industrial societies, what exists is a powerful social fragmentation and its corresponding political divisions, an increasingly critical attitude toward politics, diminishing deference to institutions and, more generally, disenchantment with and a loss of confidence in traditional political actors. In this context, the process of disintermediation effected by the leader, overtakes, in some circumstances, the classic dynamics of political personalization (Urbinati 2019). The direct (or unmediated) relationship created between leaders and politically fragmented social groups is enabled by the breakdown of a collective sense of belonging. In this vacuum, the populist leaders set in motion an operation of “social constructionism” (for Berger and Luckmann 1966) representing an “imagined community” (for Anderson 1983) founded on the sharp contraposition of the “pure” people, across the boundaries of social class, and “corrupt” elites who govern against the general will and collective interests. This new political community is constituted on the resemblance between leader and people, which is sanctioned by the recognition of the leader as “one of us”, who thinks, talks, and acts with the same instincts, tastes and reactions of the average person (Arditi 2003). For this reason, populist leaders, including the leaders of the PRLPs, are not “charismatic” leaders in the Weberian sense (Weber 1919, 1922). Far from wanting to demonstrate their extraordinary human, intellectual and political qualities, they are called upon to show themselves capable of transforming common sense into a decisional criterion, representing themselves simply as the people’s advocates, responsible heads of families or average citizens. Rather than a relationship of superiority with respect to the people, based on the recognition of exceptional personal qualities, populist leaders, including the leaders of the PRLPs, base their political legitimacy on the relationship of resemblance that they are able to construct with their own “followers”. In substance, the populist leader decides to abandon the image of “superman” in favor of the image of “everyman” (Eatwell 2002). The leadership model in Western European PRLPs has taken on three distinct forms. The first to emerge is the figure of the “Transformational Leader”. According to Burns (1978), unlike “Transactional Leadership,” which aims to motivate its supporters by appealing to the defense of their particular advantages, Transformational Leadership is characterized by its capacity to mobilize energies aimed at change, pursuing grand ideals and the most noble moral values of its followers rather than their most vile emotions, such as fear, greed and hate. Joseph Nye (2008) states even better the concept already developed in previous years. According to Nye, Transformational Leadership tends to responsibilize and exalt its “followers,” exploiting ongoing crises and conflicts to increase their awareness, individual and collective, with the aim of transforming them into something different than they previously were. According to Bass (1998) this model of political leadership also includes: 1) a special form of intellectual stimulation, instilling in its followers awareness of change and opportunities of the new perspective; 2) a more personalized attention toward the members of the leader’s political community. Rather than utilize followers as a means for achieving collective ends, the leader tries to procure for them experiences favorable to their personal development.

Inside – the internal dimension  155 Two evident cases of Transformational Leadership emerge among the European PRLPs. Over the course of their leadership activities, Pablo Iglesias (Podemos) and Jean-Luc Mélenchon (France insoumise) seem to have embodied the dynamics attributed to Transformational Leadership. In both cases, the two leaders construct their political platform on the identification of the common enemy, not immigrants, and in those who have a different language, nationality, religion and culture but rather the political elites, both right and left, who, in their view, are responsible for the implementation of the neoliberalist policies imposed by the institutions of international governance. Having identified the common adversary, Iglesias and Mélenchon interpret a model of political leadership based on expressly egalitarian and leftist ideals. Rather than constructing political and electoral consensus on the fear of “others” different from “us,” the leaders of Podemos and France insoumise set in motion a process of profound political transformation. They propose policies conceived in favor of the “lowest” strata of the population and against those who make decisions “from above” contrary to the general interest and the indivisible will of the people. On the opposite end of the leadership “continuum” within the European PRLPs is what we might call “Socio-Emotional Leadership”. Unlike what the name might seem to imply, this leadership model, according to Bales and Slater (1955) concentrates mainly on the relational aspect of the group and aims to ensure a climate of internal harmony and compactness. From a psychosocial perspective, this category indicates a leadership model oriented toward the reassurance of group members and attentive to the internal relations of its own political community. The SocioEmotional Leader is a person who, thanks to an ability to listen, is capable of resolving conflicts and attenuating endogenous tensions by highlighting collective commitment and work. More precisely, the main quality of the Socio-Emotional Leader is the ability to act as the guarantor of the power groups within the organization to avoid cracks in party unity. This particular leadership model is based on two fundamental elements: 1) empowerment of the single components of the group; 2) the organizational capacity of the leader. The first goal is to facilitate the formation of a team capable of enhancing its own internal resources, thanks to the determination of a strong leader, intent on providing rational arguments in support of the political conduct and strategy he intends to pursue. Secondly, the leader’s organizational capacity is related to the deference that the leader asks for himself for the purpose of ensuring internal political peace. The Socio-Emotional leader assumes the profile of the person who, with experience and control of endogenous ties, leads the political formation by playing the role of guarantor of its internal power centers. The leader takes care of the relationships between groups and who never puts in opposition (or tries not to put into opposition) different parts of the same organization. This definition of leadership is recognized in a person who, without constructing the legitimacy of his/her role on the basis of contingent interpretations, is able to lead the organization by being the standard bearer of a commonly held long-term political project, in the attempt to hold together parts of the organization that may come into conflict with one another.

156  Inside – the internal dimension Among the PRLPs examined in this volume, the cases that belong to this typology of leadership are the parties with the longest historical tradition, or the political heirs to 20th-century parties, with an articulated structure and a leader conceived as an expression of the party and of the project comprised in it. Specifically, the Socio-Emotional Leadership model can be found in Die Linke and in all the HyperIdentitarian Populist Radical Left Parties: the Dutch Socialist Party, the Workers’ Party of Belgium, and the Sinn Féin. The main preoccupation of the leaders who have succeeded one another at the head of these political formations has been to control the centrifugal pushes that, in spite of everything, have produced frequent schisms and unresolvable political divisions. In all of these cases, it is the party that expresses its leadership according to its internal power relationships and not vice-versa. Nevertheless, the leader’s influence becomes important in the determination of the future destiny of the party. Take, for example, the leadership of Lothar Bisky and Gregor Gysi at the time of the constitution of Die Linke, or the leadership of Gerry Adams in the process of institutionalizing his party and identifying a strategy to achieve both internal and external peace. In the cases of the Dutch Socialist Party and the Workers’ Party of Belgium, the leadership of Jan Marijnissen and Peter Mertens were fundamental to outlining their parties’ direction of march and creating the opportunities for their constant growth both in political and electoral terms. But that’s not all. Despite the dual partition proposed in these pages between Transformational Leadership and Socio-Emotional Leadership, there are other interpretive schemes capable of understanding and explaining the evolution of leadership models adopted by the PRLPs. Indeed, the Greek case of Alexis Tsipras presents a more complex case in that the leader of Syriza seems to interpret, depending on the historical phase of his party’s evolution, different leadership models. Up until 2007, when he interpreted in a very traditional way his leadership first of Synaspismos and then of Syriza, Tsipras was surely a Socio-Emotional Leader. Nevertheless, in the period following the eruption of the economic crisis, between 2008 and 2015, Tsipras abruptly changed his leadership model, interpreting instead the traditional model of Transformational Leadership in the attempt to acquire short-term political and electoral advantages. From 2015 to 2019, pushed by the force of external conditions, by the party’s victory in the national elections, by its success in entering the government and by the relationships and interactions with the strongest institutions of international governance, Tsipras returns to the exercise of a more traditional leadership model. Certainly less transformative, Tsipras’s leadership in this period is centered entirely on his role as Premier and his institutional responsibilities. By virtue of these continuous movements from one end to the other of the continuum of leadership models, Alexis Tsipras can be assigned to the category of “Situational Leadership”. According to Edelman (1964), this kind of leadership occurs when a leader succeeds in managing situations created by chance and contingencies. As elaborated by Hersey et al. (1969), the most significant element of the theory of Situational Leadership is its overcoming of the dogmatism of earlier models, highlighting the fact that there is no one “right way” to be a leader and that it is not possible to define a single style of

Inside – the internal dimension  157 leadership regardless of the different external circumstances. Instead, leaders have the chance to adopt a different style in accordance with the different contingent situations. From this point of view, a Situational Leader is also a “leader of promises,” capable of making effective use of the politics of announcement, regardless of the realistic evaluation of his political action (Segatori 2010). The main risks and potential weaknesses of the Situational Leadership model lie in the eventual lack of correspondence between expectations created and results delivered. This describes exactly the weak points of the political strategy and leadership style of Tsipras in his years as prime minister. To be sure, apart from the various definitions of leadership, the PRLPs have demonstrated that they have definitively overcome the taboo, which in the past has afflicted the traditional left with regard to the relationship between leadership and democracy. These parties have demonstrated that it is possible to have both and that a certain kind of European Left Party can coexist with strong political leadership. Indeed, it is through their recourse to strong leadership that the European parties of the radical populist left (albeit with different styles and methods) have shown themselves able to render politically productive the cleavage between the people and elites. In this way, at the same time that the people conceived as a unified (and indivisible) political subject exalt the principle of popular sovereignty it also entrusts itself to a leader in whom it places its complete political confidence.

Notes 1 For an initial approach to this topic, please see Damiani (2019c). 2 Source: L’avenir en commun. 2019. “L’avenir en commun: en bref!” Available at: https:// avenirencommun.fr/avenir-en-commun/ (last access: 8 August 2019). 3 Source: Aitor Riveiro. 2018. “Pablo Iglesias e Irene Montero obtienen un 68% de respaldo en su consulta a las bases de Podemos.” Available at: https://www.eldiario.es/ politica/inscritos-votado-consulta-Iglesias-Montero_0_775872763.html (last access: 8 August 2018).

10 Outside – the external dimension

Communication Political communication is a fundamental activity for all populist parties, and thus also for the PRLPs (Salgado 2019). Normally, political communication is prepared through the planning of three basic activities: 1) identification of a “pure” people, understood as the collective target of the communication; 2) opposition to “corrupt” elites, considered self-referential and incapable of confronting contemporary political challenges; and 3) identification of an external “enemy”, who is the object of all political attacks. Based on these three elements, already amply discussed in this volume, the new parties of the European radical populist left formulate their political communication plans. Reference to the people may give rise to what has been defined as “empty populism” (Jagers and Walgrave 2007). The term “the people” can have different meanings, and in the case of the radical populist left the reference runs directly toward the “people as demos”, as distinct from the “people as ethnos”, but also from the “people as class” (see Chapter 1). The discursive vagueness of populism, whose abstract political messages are designed to reach a heterogeneous and broad-aspossible target audience, allows for the construction of a single project and one political platform. The second characteristic element of populist parties, including those on the radical left, is the propensity to fight against elites, conceived in contraposition to the interests of the people. This leads to modes of communication that explicitly condemn the power establishment, accused of being corrupt and of failing to pursue the general welfare. Anti-elitism is used by Populist Radical Left Parties, above all in the first phase of their development, for the purpose of attaining high levels of external recognition and legitimation. The third element that defines populist parties’ communication is the search for an enemy to blame for everything that is wrong with the political system. The enemies (in the plural form) of the Populist Radical Left Parties are the bankers and the banks, financial intermediaries and the institutions of international governance, and all those who play leading roles in the process of capitalist accumulation perpetrated at the expense of globalization “losers”. These three elements (the people understood as the lowest stratum of society; anti-elitism understood as the search for more collegiality in decision-making

Outside – the external dimension  159 processes; and the identification of enemies in the world of neoliberal capitalism and international high finance) are the bases on which European Populist Radical Left Parties formulate their new proposals and with them a new mode of political communication. Through a knowing combination of these three elements, the PRLPs construct the narrative that allows them to appeal to a new “historical bloc”, defined as those on the bottom as opposed to those on the top. As regards the parties of the European radical populist left, an initial consideration derives from an analysis of their instruments of communication. As is the case for all populist parties, for the PRLPs the relationship between communication and media is rather complex (De Blasio and Sorice 2019a). On the one hand, populist parties need the mass media to transmit their message. On the other hand, even left populist parties complain about the largely critical coverage they receive from the mass media, which are often accused of presenting the parties in negative terms or even of distorting their message (Mazzoleni et al. 2003). For this reason, according to the results of some studies (Engesser et al. 2017) these parties also attempt to bypass the traditional media (often considered as belonging to the corrupt elites) by relying for the most part on social media and the more popular means of communication made “available” by internet and digital technology. Indeed, unlike the “legacy media”, these new forms of political communication can establish a direct connection with their audience without journalistic interference (despite being subject to new forms of intermediation related to the instrument used and, in some cases, to the algorithms developed for contingent needs). Moreover, both the digital mass media and the social networks offer the chance to initiate a direct relationship with the “people”, allowing the transmission of personalized messages according to the individual tastes and preferences of each single addressee. In this way, the PRLPs, and all parties that are located at the extreme ends of the political spectrum in democratic systems use the social media to construct a feeling of community, belonging and recognition among groups of otherwise dispersed people (Mazzoleni 2008; Ernst et al. 2017). Beyond the traditional information media, therefore, social media and other digital instruments become especially important in the communication strategy of the European PRLPs. Their use undoubtedly facilitates people’s access to news and information that is otherwise difficult to transmit, supplying the opportunity to organize, especially with regard to the youngest sectors of society (but not only) a collective commitment of a political nature (Newman et al. 2017). On the demand side, there has been a tendency of voters, disoriented by ideological, institutional and electoral crises, to abandon their former parties, particularly from the parties of the traditional left. This disorientation makes citizens more sensitive to appeals based on innovation and change (Aalberg et al. 2017; Reinemann et al. 2017; Shah et al. 2017). Such transformation brings about important changes in terms of instrumental innovation, which, in turn, give shape and public representation to new behaviors of political consumption, new needs and new demands. This explains the appearance on the international political scene of the socalled “digital parties” (Gerbaudo 2019). Pursuant to the criticism leveled at the traditional party model, they organize themselves around a specific functional

160  Outside – the external dimension mechanism capable of communicating with, through an innovative use of the internet, a wide target audience, whom they attempt to activate, pulling them out of a state of increasing political apathy. Thus, just as the mass political party reflected the nature, propensities, and tendencies of industrial society, organizing energies activated by a given economic and productive system, the changes brought on by the digital revolution create profound transformations in the social fabric, which, in turn, produce important changes in the modalities of political organization. In this scenario, digital parties are able to use to their own advantage all the technologies at their disposal, applying them both to the dynamics of internal communication and to the programming of external communication. The old instruments of political communication are flanked by social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, which make it possible to build up a new base of sympathizers, supporters and activists. With regard to internal communications, on the other hand, these types of political organization: 1) make ample use of data bases for digital messaging, such as Whatsapp and Telegram, which allow people to meet, get to know each other and dialogue through virtual technology about issues of mutual interest. The people involved may be very different from one another in terms of social status, educational level and occupation, and otherwise destined to exclusion from the political sphere. Without the social media, therefore, they would be incapable of playing an incisive role in the decision-making process for the resolution of problems that concern them directly; 2) have frequent recourse to digital platforms, with the goal of shaping models of direct democracy such as on-line voting on substantive issues subjected to the approval or disapproval of the party base (De Blasio and Sorice 2019b). After many years of crisis, in the course of which political parties underwent a seemingly irreversible decline, the first years of the twenty-first century usher in new modes of political organization, which deeply transform means of political communication and with them the modalities of political action. For such parties, the word “digital” indicates a set of instruments and a way of conceiving political relationships strongly influenced by information technology and (at the same time) by values of individual autonomy, participation, creativity and transparency (Levy 1984). From this perspective, and in continuity with the social transformations now in progress, there is a tendency in the international literature, well represented by Gerbaudo (2019), that discourages interpretation of digital parties as an anomaly or a pathology of our times. These authors prefer instead to place digital parties in a new paradigm of the party that reflects post-industrial society in a way that is analogous to the way mass parties reflected industrial society. Far from supplanting the old party model, however, the digital parties complement the old model. In fact, the more traditional party form, conceived with a hierarchical structure, rooted in the local community, with sections and local federations, a broad membership, and financed by membership dues and voluntary work, though in the process of a profound transformation, is not in danger of extinction. That organizational model still characterizes a part of the political parties of the radical populist left. Indeed, with the exception of Podemos and France insoumise, which are the most recently formed PRLPs, as well as the most original,

Outside – the external dimension  161 for all the other PRLPs the organizational model is still the traditional one. In such cases, the parties’ political communication is also strongly influenced by their organizational structure: communication is handled mostly by internal party structures, relies on the skills of party officials and uses the classic means of communication with much less involvement of digital technologies. Parties such as Syriza and Die Linke, but also the Dutch Socialist Party and the Workers’ Party of Belgium and Sinn Féin, do not have dedicated digital platforms that they can use to mobilize their party base. They are political formations that, even with regard to communications, function in the traditional manner. For them, face-to-face contact, leafleting, going door-to-door, rallies, and the activism of party members remain perfectly coherent with the institutional format and use of their websites, conceived almost exclusively as one-directional instruments of information: from the party leadership to the membership.

Governing Evaluating the governing experience of Western European PRLPs is rather difficult because, as of yet, there is not much of a database for such a study. At the national level, the only experience of government of a European Populist Radical Left Party to date is the Greek government headed by Syriza (2015–2019). This precedent is joined only by the Spanish adventure. In the first Sanchez government (2018–2019) Podemos giving its external support to the socialist executive without, however, expressing its own cabinet ministers or becoming part of the government. Podemos limited its support to an affirmative parliamentary vote of confidence and on subsequent measures proposed by the executive. In December 2019, however, after the second round of elections that year, the necessary condition for the formation of a new government Sánchez are fulfilled again, this time including ministers from Unidas Podemos.1 At the local level, on the other hand, the instances of PRLP government participation are much more numerous. The most important ones involve the German cities and landers governed by Die Linke together with the SPD and the Greens; the autonomous municipalities and cities governed by Podemos in coalition with the PSOE and other parties; and the French cities governed by France insoumise in coalition with various other parties, particularly with the Greens and the Communists. This section discusses the principle governing experiences of the PRLPs, dedicating special attention to the manner of forming alliances, where that has been the case, on the relationships between PRLPs and other constitutional parties, on their policy choices – both announced and effectively implemented – and on the perceived distance between their promises and their actual performance (Damiani 2017). The first thing to note is that, when these parties manage to enter or lead a government, what follows is not the irreversible transformation of liberal democratic regimes. Actually, when PRLPs take power, they decide to abandon the harshly antagonistic style used in their election campaigns in order to make a much broader appeal for consensus, even to the point of supporting pro-systemic positions shared

162  Outside – the external dimension by a plurality of allied parties (Peruzzotti 2017). The most emblematic case is that of the Tsipras government, which, after the Syntagma Square protests and after supporting the anti-austerity movement of the early 2000s, Tsipras decides, upon taking power, to accept the conditions of “external constraint” imposed by its foreign creditors and by the principal institutions of international financial governance. In short, Tsipras and Syriza choose not to give up the reins of power and to use them instead to guide Greece out of the economic crisis of those years. The argument used by the Syriza leadership to justify this change of position is the need to stay in power in order to execute the economic and financial maneuvers requested “by Brussels” in a way that would respect (as much as possible) the interests of the people most exposed to the negative effects produced by the crisis. Based on this conviction, the Coalition of the Radical Left agrees to implement a plan of structural reforms totally at odds with its earlier populist proclamations and accepts the indications outlined in the memorandum of the troika and the conditions imposed from the outside. This assumption of responsibility, considered one of the causes that determined Syriza’s defeat in the elections of 2019, is explored in detail in Chapter 6. A rather similar experience characterizes the political evolution of Podemos, when in 2018 and 2019 it agrees (first) to support the government externally and (then) to take part in the formation of a future socialist government with the PSOE. Podemos supported government policies that were certainly different compared to those invoked in its most advanced populist phase during the election campaign of 2014 (the year of its foundation). Its earlier positions had conferred on Podemos the role of co-protagonist but also challenger in the Spanish political system. When it agreed to support the PSOE government, the challenger lost its punch. The governing experiences of European Populist Radical Left Parties, though not numerous, highlight two fundamental points. First of all, the low frequency of such experiences indicates a low potential for alliance on the part of the PRLPs, which almost never manage to construct conditions allowing them to govern. This is the case, for example, of Die Linke, which up to now has always been considered by the social democrats of the SPD an “irresponsible” political force with which it must avoid to enter into electoral or governmental agreements for fear that such agreements will be betrayed during the effective exercise of government powers. Even Syriza encountered a lot of difficulties in making the alliances necessary to reach an absolute majority of parliamentary seats. It was forced to accept help from ANEL (Independent Greeks), a conservative and nationalist Euro-skeptical party which, at the time of the formation of the two Tsipras governments, provided the indispensable support for those new institutional experiences to get off the ground. The situation in Spain is even more problematic. Indeed, after the general elections in April 2019, Podemos does not manage to reach a political agreement with the PSOE for the formation of a second Sanchez government, taking the country instead to new elections. It will only be after the election of a new Parliament (in November 2019) that Podemos and the PSOE agree to create the second Sánchez government.

Outside – the external dimension  163 Furthermore, where the PRLPs have had governing experiences, those experiences have demonstrated that it is realistically difficult, if not impossible, to respond in a reasonably short time to the expectations raised during election campaigns. Bringing about the conditions that lead to the realization of “radical democracy” is not easy for two essential reasons. First, such transformations are practically difficult to implement. Second, they require an amount of financial resources that is not easily found, especially in the conditions of economic hardship and crisis that favor the appearance on the international political scene of Populist Radical Left Parties. In this regard, we offer as an example the case of France insoumise. The prospect of a national government with the participation of the party of Mélenchon is hard to imagine because for the LFI to retain a high level of electoral consensus requires the achievement of a series of measurable objectives capable of shortening the perceived distance between the people and the elite. On the practical level, accomplishing the objectives of the LFI’s political program is extremely complex. How, for example, can the government of France, acting on its own, reduce the power of the European Central Bank and all the banks that pursue (in the LFI’s view) interests different from those of the people? How can France alone diminish the role of the European Commission and the reorganization process of international governance, which seems to undermine the sovereignty of national governments to the advantage of non-elected supranational institutions, both public and private? How, by governing in France alone, can you combat the global economic “caste”? And on top of that, what is the deadline for reaching such objectives? Assuming, without conceding, that it were possible in a relatively short time to take such questions under examination, a government with the participation of a Populist Radical Left Party would necessarily be expected to fulfill the promises made during the election campaign by directing public spending primarily toward social policies inspired by the principle of economic redistribution. At the same time, however, the middle-class voters who had supported the other parties of the governing coalition might not necessarily agree with such policies. Posing such questions helps to understand the difficulty of the political operation that PRLPs are or would be faced with when participating in a government of a large western European democratic country. This is the origin of the problems already encountered in the Greek scenario and which re-emerged at least partially in Spain. These are the difficulties that hinder (and at times impede) access to government power for Populist Radical Left Parties. Moreover, actual governing experiences (where they occur) constitute an important as well as difficult testing ground for all species of PRLPs. For this reason, it cannot be taken for granted that such parties will be willing to take on government roles. From a purely selfish point of view, the ideal situation for such parties may be to remain among the ranks of the opposition, thus retaining their ability to act in the destruens phase rather than being obliged to organize the construens phase. Paradoxically, on symbolic themes particularly dear to their supporters, it may be better for such parties to stay out of government and instead to set in motion processes of consciousness raising and mass politicization. This would allow them to construct from the opposition the premises for the affirmation

164  Outside – the external dimension of a new, antagonistic and hegemonic political culture. Such an approach could be more productive in the long term than contenting themselves with a few meager accomplishments achieved thanks to government action but at the cost of many more compromises where they end up with the short end of the stick. This question (whether or not to participate in the formation of governments) has long been one of the most delicate questions faced by parties of the European radical populist left. This dilemma could become even more serious for the PRLPs and, in particular, for the Neo-Identitarian PRLPs, which, despite their majoritarian vocation (see Podemos and France insoumise) could prefer a different political strategy than the one they originally conceived. By the same token, the actual experience of governing could bring with it an important risk for all of the PRLPs, namely, the risk of political identity loss, giving up their original populist orientation which, as we have said, turns out to be useful during election campaigns but much less advantageous once the party has become part of the government. The result could be a process of normalization and, therefore, a return to a political position typical of the non-populist radical left. This is the risk, among others, facing Syriza after its first experience in government, but this (at least in theory) is also the risk facing Podemos in the case of its eventual participation in the national government in alliance with the PSOE or with other Spanish parties.2 Shifting our attention from the national level to the sub-national level, the cases of governments constituted with the contribution of the PRLPs are much more numerous. In fact, the reduced political content of regional, provincial and municipal governments appears to facilitate the construction of institutional majorities together with allied parties as well as increasing the chances of carrying out, without too many repercussions, the promised administrative policies. In Germany, for example, at the start of the 2000s, a left-left coalition, with the decisive support of the Die Linke, governs important Landers such as Berlin (since 2016) and Brema (since 2019). In both cases, the German Populist Radical Left Party decided to let its membership vote to approve or disapprove the legislative program on which it proposed to make a coalition with its allied parties (social democrats and Greens). Only after the positive outcome of this consultative vote did the party decide to proceed with actual formation of the majority coalition government. There is more. Die Linke also governs in Thuringia (since 2014), expressing in that case the president of the Lander (Bobo Raemlow), also supported by the social democrats and the Greens. Furthermore, Die Linke governs and/or has expressed a governing political class in the provinces of MansfieldSüdharz, Wittenberg, and Teltow-Fläming (all in the East), and also in cities. From its foundation until 2019, Die Linke has elected forty-six mayors and numerous city council members and administrators. In the most important cases, in Eisenach, Halberstadt and Borna, Die Linke has governed and elected the mayor. Since 2018 Frankfurt too has been governed by a mayor from Die Linke, René Wilke. In all of these cases, the German Populist Radical Left Party governs in coalition with the SPD and the Grünen.

Outside – the external dimension  165 As regards France, there, too, France insoumise has played a leading role in several city governments. The movement party led by Mélenchon does not govern any regions or provinces, but it does govern several cities in government coalitions formed, depending on the case, with communists, socialists or Greens. The most important examples include Martingues and, above all, Grenoble, where on the occasion of the municipal elections of 2014 (which in France are held on the same day in the country’s more than thirty-five thousand municipalities), the mayors elected respectively by the French Communist Party and the Greens are supported by the party of JLM (then the leader of the Parti de gauche), later merged with France insoumise. The most important case among the Hyper-Identitarian PRLPs is Sinn Féin. The Irish Populist Radical Left Party has governed and now governs Northern Ireland while at the same time expressing the governments of many of the country’s important municipalities. Its recently elected mayors include Niall O’Donnghaile and John Finucane, both elected mayor of Belfast, the former in 2011 (until 2016) and the latter in 2019. The leader of Sinn Féin herself, Michelle O’Neill was elected in 2010 as mayor of Dungannon in South Tyrone.

Another Europe To understand the critical relationship between the PRLPs and European institutions it is necessary to reconstruct a long-term trajectory that begins before 1989 and that, despite some differences in the individual national cases, goes all the way to the beginning of the 21st century, displaying a recognizable line of continuity. We can identify three different historical phases within this period, corresponding to three political moments whose leading players are distinct types of parties. The first phase, preceding the appearance of the PRLPs but nevertheless useful in analyzing their position, goes back to the creation of the European Economic Community, begun with the signing of the Treaty of Rome in 1957. At this juncture, the parties with the leading role are the traditional Marxist parties. Their dissent from the creation of the EEC is based on three factors (Calossi 2011). First, the presumed risk that the EEC could become a tool in the hands of big capital and return Germany to a central role after the end of World War II. The main fear was that Germany might become a sort of economic arm of the countries belonging to the NATO military alliance (Bardi and Ignazi 1999). Second, the danger that the European institutions would be used by the United States to prevent the development of an autonomous and neutral Europe between the two opposing blocs of the Cold War. After all, at that time, the memory of the Marshall Plan (1947–1951), proposed and approved by the US government principally for the reconstruction of West Germany, was still very much alive. In that case, in exchange for its economic commitment, the American government applied strong pressure for the expulsion of communist parties from the governing coalitions of the post-war governments constituted in countries participating in the Plan (Bell and Lord 1998). Third, the risk that the Treaty of Rome and all the treaties signed by European governments in the 1950s would be inspired by liberal principles of laissez-faire, rather than by

166  Outside – the external dimension the Keynesian model that had actually been tried for the first time in the USA as a way out of the Great Depression of 1929 (Marset 2003). From the 1950s until the early 1990s, the parties of the Marxist left were caught in a contradiction. On the one hand, they aligned themselves in support of the Soviet regime while, on the other, they sometimes contributed to the reinforcement of western democracy, which adopted the instruments of defense (military as well as economic) against the threat from the East. Ensnared in this precarious political balancing act, they initially decide not to recognize the legitimacy of the community institutions, choosing not to nominate candidates for election to the Strasburg Parliament. The first party to break this agreement is the Italian Communist Party (PCI, the largest communist party in the West). In 1969 the PCI sent seven deputies to the European parliament.3 Following this move by the PCI, in the 1970s the positions of many other communist parties in Western Europe start to change. The Italian shift is also important because it marks the beginning of socalled euro-communism (Godson and Haseler 1978; Balampanidis 2018)4 and the opening of parties positioned to the left of the socialist parties with respect to the European community. In 1973, the French Communist Party recognizes the role of the EEC, participating in the elections and agreeing to send its own representatives to the supranational legislative institutions. Based on these experiences, the communist parties of the Marxist left manage to constitute an autonomous parliamentary group, maintaining their critical stance, but at the same time undertaking to conduct their opposition within the community institutions. The second phase of relations between the parties of the alternative left – the Populist Radical Left Parties – and European political institutions dates to the years following the signing of the Treaty of Maastricht (1992). In this case, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the diffuse opposition among the various parties of the left-left focuses on the oligarchic and insufficiently democratic nature of the European integration process and the role played (or not played) by the European parliament. The negative evaluations are concentrated on the political marginality of the legislative power to the advantage of the central role attributed to the executive branch. The early 1990s witness the beginning of a steadfast criticism of the centralization of powers in the hands of the European Commission and the Council of Europe (Damiani 2016). The arguments used against the founding treaty of the EU are destined to remain substantially unchanged over the course of the following decades. The main target of the opposition is the neoliberalist economic policy and the insufficiently democratic process leading to the birth of the EU, which, for the most important decisions affecting the future destiny of millions of community citizens, bypasses the parliamentary assembly to confer effective decision-making power on institutional bodies chosen by the national governments of the member states. The opposition of the parties of the alternative and populist left to the ratification of the Treaty of Maastricht is nearly unanimous, with the exception of the Greek Synaspismos (the party that would later contribute to the creation of Syriza), which votes in favor of ratification. In any event, opposition to the treaty inaugurates a new phase marked by the greater unity of the parties of the left opposition to the European Union.

Outside – the external dimension  167 This opposition to the Treaty of Maastricht, however, rather than expressing some ideological hostility to the process of European integration, is meant to manifest the desire to pursue a different supranational balance in favor of a more political unification, not merely economic and monetary, capable of creating the conditions for greater solidarity and cooperation among the individual member states. Regardless of the complexity of the position assumed by the forces of the non-socialist left, however, the various parties involved agree on a policy of strong opposition to the neoliberal economic policies, which, in their view, are driving the process of integration. In practice, this opposition is expressed through criticism of both the Treaty for the Establishment of a European Constitution (TCE) and the Treaty of Lisbon. Both treaties, aimed at approving the supranational constitutional order, are criticized for the presumed risk of “constitutionalizing” the neoliberal policies adopted by the Union. The TCE is rejected by France, in 2005, following a massive referendum campaign that sees the “Nos” prevail with nearly 55% of the vote. The French communist party plays a fundamental role in that battle, placing its organizational machine at the disposition of the No campaign. This marks the beginning of the experiment of the Front de gauche and the origins of the (original) idea of entrusting Jean Luc Mélenchon with the responsibility of overcoming the narrow electoral confines of the PCF for the purpose of constructing a broader standard-bearer for the French left (Damiani and De Luca 2016). The referenda on the TCE also produces a surprise result in Hollande where, as in France, the Dutch Socialist Party contributes to the victory of those opposing the TCE. Beyond France and Hollande, in the other European countries the parties (on the left) that join the opposition to the TCE show the existence of a common political line. After the rejection of the first constitutional treaty, the project for approval of a European constitution takes the form of the Treaty of Lisbon, ratified by the twenty-seven member states of the Union in 2009. Despite the criticisms advanced by the parties of the alternative left, the European constitution approved in Lisbon proceeds through the ratification process without difficulty. The only exception is Ireland. There, thanks in part to the opposition of Sinn Féin, the EU suffers its first defeat in June 2008. In the following months, however, under the onslaught of strong international pressure, a new popular consultation is proposed and the Irish, too, in October 2009, voice their consent, opening the way to implementation of the project outlined in the treaty. Throughout the years following approval of the Treaty of Lisbon, all the parties of the alternative left maintain a unified opposition to the institutions of the EU, highlighting the limitations produced, in their view, by a solely economic and monetary union and the substantial absence of political unification among the member states. That said, however, and despite the nuances of their various positions, it would not seem possible to describe the parties of the alternative left, and among them the PRLPs, as declaredly anti-Europeanist parties. Instead, it seems more accurate to picture them in terms of a continuum of more or less intense attitudes of Euroskepticism. The parties that declare themselves in favor of accelerating the process of European integration without renouncing the political construction of a proper

168  Outside – the external dimension supranational entity (along the lines of the vaguely defined model of the United States of Europe) display a soft degree of Euro-skepticism (Szczerbiak and Taggart 2008a, 2008b). Without advancing explicit opposition to the European integration process, these parties limit themselves to criticizing, even harshly, the neoliberalist package of economic policies. This is the position of the Post-Identitarian Populist Radical Left Parties led by the Greek Coalition of the Radical Left (recall that the principal party that merged into Syriza, Synasprismos, originally voted to approve the Treaty of Maastricht). Joining Syriza in this position is the PDS-DL, openly favorable, partly for reasons of national interest, to the process of European integration, which, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, allows Germany to enjoy its benefits, which are useful in the political reunification of the two parts of the country. A degree of harder Euro-skepticism is expressed by the Hyper-Identitarian Populist Radical Left Parties, namely, the Workers’ Party of Belgium, the Dutch Socialist Party, and the Irish Sinn Féin. These parties, even in the years prior to 1989, advance a rather radical critique of the process of European integration then in progress. Based on what we have seen up to now, it can be said that the relationship between the Populist Radical Left and the institutions of the European Union has been in constant evolution. The persistent theme in that evolution has been a preference for a vaguely defined political option that is always deliberately pragmatic, willing to approve a model of integration aimed at reinforcing the internal democracy of community institutions. The third and last critical phase of the relationship between the PRLPs and European institutions begins in the early years of the 21st century, in correspondence with the economic and financial crisis of the Great Recession, which starts to produce negative consequences in Europe in 2008. Following the protests and problems in Greece, and then, with a sort of domino effect, in all the countries of southern Europe and many countries in central and northern Europe, those years witness the appearance of a new category of political parties – which we have defined as Neo-Identitarian PRLPs – including Podemos, France insoumise and (in part) Syriza. Already amply analyzed in the second part of this volume, these are political organizations formed in opposition to the supranational elites of political, economic, and bureaucratic power. Their shared accusation is that these elites want to undermine the sovereignty of national governments in order to homogenize economic policy in all the European countries in accordance with the neoliberalist and recessive economic policy choices conceived on high regardless of and/ or in spite of the will of citizen-voters. The parties belonging to this category do not see the EU as an institution conceived and predisposed exclusively for the accomplishment of noble political objectives such as: international peace (after the outbreak of the two world wars); the expansion of democracy beyond national borders; the extension of the rights of citizenship to a broader spectrum of people; and constant economic prosperity shared equitably by all the different member states. These parties ascribe to the European Union and its principal interpreters, particularly the European Commission and the European Central Bank (in concert with the International Monetary Fund) the leading roles in a governance aimed at

Outside – the external dimension  169 reinforcing the dominance of economics over politics, thus rendering permanent the top/bottom relationship between European citizens. According to this critique, power is concentrated in the hands of a small governing oligarchy, at the expense of the majority of the people, whose representative governments are increasingly helpless to alter the pre-constituted balance of power (Amard 2014). All of this leads, in this conception, to the undermining of representative democracy and the strengthening of the model of “Post-Democracy” (Crouch 2000), favoring the interests of the few over the interests of the many, and not vice-versa. Thus conceived, however, the European question poses dilemmas that do not exclude some contradictions. On the one hand, the parties of the left created and deployed in defense of the “pure” people against the “corrupt” elites are not willing to surrender to the immutability of the existing balance of power, proposing instead a transformation and a radical reform of European institutions to make them more democratic and egalitarian. In this view, the European Union is conceived as an alternative political space with respect to neoliberalist policies and contrary to the development of racist sentiment and the rebirth of nationalism. On the other hand, however, these parties harbor the conviction of the irreformability of the European treaties and the impossibility of changing them in the short term. The current institutional arrangement of the European Union is not perceived as a systemic error but rather as an instrument of the neoliberalist ruling class designed to deliver its own political objectives by weakening national governments and reinforcing the laws of the capitalist market. In this regard, the weakness demonstrated by the Greek government of Syriza in response to the indications of the exponents of international governance seems evident, leaving ample margins for pessimism about prospects for change. In response to these difficulties, the slogan of the PRLPs has assumed a direct reference to the construction of a “Europe for the People”. This formula, which takes on a meaning that wavers between myth and reality, expresses the wish for a new constitutional pact capable of creating a united Europe founded on international peace, egalitarian economic development, and the defense of the ethnic, religious and cultural identities that persist among the various member states. Europe for the People is conceived in the name of overcoming national egotisms, so that Europe can endow itself with unified and coordinated community policies, starting with international and foreign policy, immigration policy, economic development policy and social welfare policy. From this point of view, a new model of European Union is designed to work as a community of destinies among peoples who share institutional values, rules and common interests. In this declension of Europe, rather than an alliance between the EU should constitute itself as a unity of peoples, founded on a new constitutional spirit. The intention is to unify all the peoples of Europe not merely around the pursuit of market interests (monetary policy, agriculture policy, regional development funds and other single market regulations), but rather through their common allegiance to a series of values, capable of inspiring a feeling of common belonging among the countries of the Union, thus overcoming national egotism. In the intentions of its proponents, this Europe should promote a new model of globalization capable of eliminating social dumping and the exploitation of labor by endowing

170  Outside – the external dimension itself with adequate instruments for the protection of nature, the environment and the landscape from the indiscriminate consumption of common goods. Europe for the People offers citizens a model of development not based only on the economy but rather founded on respect for the values sanctioned by a new constitutional charter.

Notes 1 At the time of writing, the process that should bring to the formation of the second Sánchez government is ongoing. 2 The normalization risk (for parties of the radical populist left and for parties of the radical left as such) is more easily faced by those parties with a long history within the non-populist radical left. Indeed, beyond the election results which have increased the political weight of the Workers’ Party of Belgium and the Dutch Socialist Party, their abandonment of the populist dimension and their return to their point of origin would be relatively easy to execute. This withdrawal to their past position would be even more likely if the crisis of the Great Recession (the cause of the populist turn of these two parties) were to be exhausted, restoring Belgium and Hollande to healthy economic and financial conditions. Sinn Féin is a different case. As long as the political and cultural conflict Ireland and the UK remains alive, Sinn Féin will have an easy time organizing its political platform on the contraposition us/them, reconciling perfectly the Worker/ Owner cleavage with the Center/Periphery Cleavage. 3 It should be remembered that from 1951 to 1979 (year of the first European elections for the Strasburg Parliament), the European parliamentary assembly is formed by appointments made directly by the governments of the member states of the then EEC, which (in accordance with pre-established proportions and consultations with their own parliaments) appoint all of the components, in agreement with the parties in their countries. For an initial approach to the history of the European Economic Community, then European Union, please see the work of Mammarella and Cacace (2013). 4 Eurocommunism was a strategy aimed at finding a “national way” to communism able to free itself from the decades-old bonds between the communist parties of Europe and the regimes of real socialism. The term Eurocommunism indicates the traits of a political operation that aims to imagine a European communist experience to be defined differently from country to country. In fact, this experimentation would be short-lived and its political results would be quite limited. Its most important result can be found in the beginning of the long process of emancipation undertaken in those years by the European communist parties in relation to regimes of Eastern Europe. This progressive political separation (whose beginnings are tied to the events of the Prague Spring of 1968, when for the first time the Italian Communist Party condemns the Soviet repression manu militari carried out in the Czechoslovakian capital) has its official debut in 1977 with the meeting in Madrid between Enrico Berlinguer, Georges Marchais and Santiago Carillo, respectively, the secretaries of the Italian, French and Spanish communist parties, who announce the baptism of the Eurocommunist strategy (Valli 1976).

Conclusions

At the start of the 21st century, during the crisis of the Great Recession, the European left (or part of it) sets off on a search for a new way out of the tunnel of persistent hardship. Populism is not a distinctive trait of socialist and communist political ideology. Nevertheless, the narrative and the rhetorical style centered around the contraposition between the “pure” people and the “corrupt” elite, translated by the left into the top/bottom fracture, becomes the chosen modality for reorganizing political conflict. For the most part, this new contraposition replaces the traditional left conception of the capital/labour cleavage, which, despite having survived the post-Fordist age and into the early years of the third millennium, no longer produces much political effect. Left populism arising out of a profound critique of reformist left (socialist and social democratic) is accused of having surrendered to the juggernaut of neoliberalism and the concomitant attempt to salvage the remnants of popular sovereignty left languishing by neoliberal models of governance. The populist scheme (à la Laclau) offers the left a way to reformulate and re-integrate heterogeneous demands into a single anti-elitist political platform. This renewed political option attempts to join the principles of radical democracy to the model of personal leadership, invoking a return to an “inclusionary” patriotism in opposition to capitalist cosmopolitanism and to the “exclusionary” nationalism of the populism of the European new right. This political formulation represents a reaction to the fragmentation of contemporary society and aims to construct a “people” capable of moving beyond the confines of class, in order to counter more effectively the oligarchic interests of the dominant elite (Flesher Fominaya 2014; Rovira Kaltwasser 2014). In this regard, with reference to the hypothesis formulated in the introduction, we wish, first of all, to challenge the anti-systemic character initially attributed to the PRLPs. While Marxist-Leninist ideology presupposed a revolutionary transformation of the status quo and the establishment of a socialist economic and political model, we have described the Populist Radical Left Parties as promoters of structural reforms who nonetheless believe in keeping alive the liberal-democratic and capitalist system in which they operate. From this perspective, this type of political party, active on the international political scene from 1989 through 2019 certainly seems to represent a pro-system option. After all, the new “historical bloc” represented by the Populist Radical Left Parties, comprising a plurality of

172 Conclusions heterogeneous social sectors and actors coming from a variety of politico-cultural traditions, appears to be totally without a revolutionary potential comparable to that displayed by the 20th century working-class movement inspired by Marxist ideology. Podemos and France insoumise, but even Syriza, Die Linke and all the parties of the European radical populist left, are leading players in a political strategy more easily compared to the reformism of the new left than to the old revolutionary socialist and communist parties (March and Mudde 2005; Mudde 2006). In this framework, we would include the PRLPs in the category of prosystem parties, in so far as they are contrary to the neoliberalist policies adopted equally (in their view) by governing elites both right and left, without, however, pursuing an alternative political and economic system. This view, however, represents only one piece of the analysis proposed in the book. If we interpret the category of anti-system parties in the narrow sense (Sartori 1976), we might conclude that the PRLPs, though never withdrawing from the pre-established democratic political contract, still possess a small anti-systemic charge, provided we understand by that “any” change or demand for change of the pre-established constitutional balance of power in the various European countries. In substance, albeit in deference to the rules of the democratic game, by making themselves the vectors of important transformative demands, conceived for the purpose of changing or proposing to change the formal configurations of the democratic political communities in which they operate, such parties can be attributed to at least a small dose of anti-systemic content. The most outstanding of this is Syriza, whose proposal for constitutional reform proposed directly by Tsipras was approved by parliament. In that case, the reforms concerned, among other things, the electoral system (from a proportional system “reinforced” by a majority premium to a “simple” proportional with a threshold percentage for admission), strengthening of the role of the President of the Republic, enhancement of the instruments of direct democracy by provision for popular referenda, institution of a consultative body to rule on the legitimacy of new laws, elimination of parliamentary immunity except for accusations connected to the exercise of parliamentary duties, safeguards for the separation of church and state, and the protection of social rights (Grigoriadis 2018). Despite these constitutional reforms, the normative implementation of the reforms had no effect on the democratic framework of Greece’s political institutions. The demands of Podemos in Spain, to cite another example, reach the heart of the political system, calling for a radical transformation of the institutional framework that provides, hypothetically, for the replacement of the monarchy by a constitutional Tercera República (Anguita and Reina 2013). These reforms have so far been limited to declarations of intent rather than the proper organization of a political campaign and, in fact, this request by Podemos does not violate the boundaries of liberal, representative democracy, limiting itself to a proposal to change the figure of the head of state. In France, the requests for constitutional revision advanced by France insoumise are concentrated on the replacement of the presidential Fifth Republic by a parliamentary Sixth Republic (Benetti 2018). In this case, too, there is no threat to

Conclusions  173 the country’s democratic institutions but rather a request for an adjustment of the balance of power within the institutional framework of the republic. In Ireland, Sinn Féin, an ethno-regionalist party intent on reuniting Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in a single country, proposes to redesign the geographical boundaries of the state while maintaining its democratic institutions. All these examples, to which others could be added, despite their individual differences, substantially share the same approach. All the requests for reform that we have mentioned concern political action aimed at achieving a form of radical democracy capable of renewing the mandate of popular sovereignty by reinforcing the channels of communication between the people and their governing institutions. The requests advanced by the PRLPs (even where they have been approved as in Greece) do not threaten the health or the hold of democratic political rule, acting instead within the system in the attempt to modify its essential working mechanisms. Therefore, in reference to the book’s initial hypothesis, presented in the introduction, that the PRLPs are to be considered pro-system parties has been confirmed in part. The European parties of the radical populist left, though always using pro-democratic methods, sometimes act as proponents of radical institutional change or of requests for radical changes in the political systems in which they operate, producing (if and when they should be approved) important transformations in the existing democratic framework. At this point, in keeping with the plan laid out in the introduction, we can turn to the consideration of some of the weak points or vulnerabilities displayed by the experience of radical left-wing populism. The appearance of the PRLPs in Western Europe actually poses a series of important questions. The main problem concerns the construction of a political platform. The mass parties of the 20th century were called upon to interpret socially homogenous demands within an overall project capable of transforming individual needs into public interests of a collective nature. Today’s populist parties, on the other hand (including the PRLPs), must make an additional effort. Operating in a context of ultra-fragmented individualized social relationships, they have to address themselves to individual and collective actors who are carriers of newly emerging and diverse interests. While mass parties based their strength on the uniformity of the social class they intended to represent and on the principle of the ideological coherence of their proposals, populist parties must build their fortunes on their capacity to integrate the different demands for transformation coming from the various parts of a fragmented society into a unified political project. This, in turn, leads to two further evaluative considerations. The first is organizational in nature. In practice, the horizontality of social relations and the lack of a hierarchical ranking of the demands advanced by fragmented social groups is faced with the verticality of party power structures, thus risking a failure to respond to the plurality of the initial demands. The second issue regards the efficacy of the PRLPs’ political action. The capacity to organize a program of electoral proposals based on the heterogeneity of the points of view that the party wants to represent is perfectly coherent with the pars destruens, executed very effectively by such parties. This same capacity displays equally important weaknesses, however, when

174 Conclusions it comes to organizing the pars costruens. In fact, the method of choice adopted when governing corresponds to a criterion that, by definition, presupposes the selection of eminently political priorities, able to satisfy the needs of a part but leaving unresolved the demands and requests coming from other social sectors. Not coincidentally, the governing experiences of PRLPs discussed in this book have often been controversial. Another critical juncture created by the populist shift of the European radical left concerns a more intimate political dimension, namely, the process of identifying or founding “the people.” Unlike the populist parties of the right, constituted on a Brut und Boden (earth and blood) conception of the people, reinforced by elements and symbols of a historical, linguistic, cultural or religious nature, for the Populist Radical Left Parties construction of a people is much more complex and subtle. Although rooted in a specific nation, the people of the PRLPs is constituted around a relatively weak social contract, pieced together from material political facts exploding in a certain historical moment. The people of the indignados, for example, which burst onto the scene in Spain in May 2011, is a prototype of this phenomenon. Constituted suddenly around shared material living conditions caused by the economic hardships and social unrest in Spain at that time, the indignados were rather short-lived. The movement and the people involved in it represent specific national peculiarities, not reproducible in other places or other times from their actual time and place. Unlike the “people” of the right, ready to be mobilized (albeit for different reasons) at different historical moments on the basis of shared values and principles not subject to short-term deterioration, the “people” of the populist left is much more difficult to evoke, construct and mobilize. In the Spanish case, once the indignados managed to impose themselves on the national political scene, bringing about the sine qua non that led to the formation of Podemos, they began just as fast to make their exit. While the people of the populist right can be mobilized (almost) continually by simple and direct slogans (like, for sample, “Make America Great Again,” of Trumpian invention), the “people” of the populist left takes shape and evaporates rapidly, depending on the formation and evolution of external conditions. This means that in France, Germany, Spain and elsewhere, there exist political forces such as Front national (or Rassemblement national), Alternative für Deutschland, or Vox that can count on the existence of a consistent people almost on a permanent basis. Conversely, the people of the populist left is short-lived, presents itself on the international political scene in a scattershot fashion, depending on contingencies, and with a political charge apt to spend itself quickly. All this leads us to two final considerations. First, the difficulties observed in reference to the construction of the “people” of left populism explains the low incidence of PRLPs in Western Europe compared to right populist parties. Among radical left parties, the ideal conditions that lead to the adoption of a populist style present themselves erratically and with shortterm prospects. From this perspective, it is clear that the transformations brought about by globalization and the challenges imposed by neoliberalist policies have caused a tumultuous cultural “displacement” that has affected a sizable portion of

Conclusions  175 the European population. Faced with this disruption, citizens have been demanding that governing elites take measures to ensure a more secure society, including measures of closure and protectionism, especially with regard to the regulation of immigration flows, viewed in most cases with hostility by the majority of European populations (Dickinson 2017). All of this, together with the problems connected with the resolution of these issues, constitutes an immediate advantage for parties of the populist right while posing important dilemmas for the parties of the populist radical left. Second, we would like to consider a peculiar characteristic of the European Populist Radical Left Parties that, at the end of the journey proposed in the book, it seems to us useful to underline. Conceived as we have described them in this volume, PRLPs appear in relation to the structure of the political opportunities that present themselves in a given historical moment. In that sense, they do not appear to be degenerative factors for democracy. As we have said, their purpose is the pursuit of a radical democracy capable of bringing about the conditions needed to achieve a new political and cultural hegemony so that the social groups most harmed by the crisis and those most disappointed by traditional left parties can become the leading agents of change (Damiani and Viviani 2019). In this regard, however, we wish to advance a further evaluation about the transitory value of the reformulation of political conflict within this kind of party. The PRLPs are a product of political contingencies not easily reproducible over the long term. The European Populist Radical Left Parties were born to renew the traditional models of the Marxist mass parties and to launch a new kind of politics, and our impression is that over the span of time examined here (1989–2019) this operation has reached its peak of success. The PRLPs have effectively given rise to a renewed idea of political directivity. Conversely, however, our sensation is that the tension productive of the conditions that lead to such renewal is difficult to maintain over time. The physiological evolution of external conditions, in terms of the recovery capacity of the principle economic indicators following the crisis of the Great Recession, and the difficulty of preserving over the long term a high level of social mobilization against the degeneration of contemporary democracies, constitute a risk for these parties of political backsliding. The softening of economic hardships and the resulting decline in political activism could lead them toward a consolidation of more traditional positions, making them very much resemble once again the parties of the European radical left, cleansed of their populist traits that had been the initial stimulus of their transformative expectations. As things now stand, if we observe the political trajectory of Syriza, Podemos and France insoumise (but the same holds true for Die Linke (ex PDS), the Dutch Socialist Party, The Workers’ Party of Belgium and Sinn Féin in Ireland), it is not hard to see that, compared to the period of greatest populist enthusiasm in the most difficult years of the economic crisis, they have undergone an important political transformation. After the sudden success achieved on the national level, once it took over the reins of government, Syriza forgot about the expectations it had raised during the election campaign and tried to salvage the salvageable, accepting (not without paying a high political cost) the “memorandum” of its creditors,

176 Conclusions Podemos, following its initial explosion in the wake of the indignados, has entered a phase of withdrawal and reorganization that has produced strong internal conflicts over the line to follow and the normalization of its political trajectory. France insoumise, that had bet on the strength of its populist leader and his positive but not excellent performance in the 2017 presidential election (having failed to earn a place in the runoff balloting) has experienced internal dissent that has weakened its organization and led to the exit of leaders who made important contributions to its initial program. This same transformative tendency can also be traced in all of the other parties we have considered. It seems as though the populist constituency is a sort of political high tide, which, after the natural course of events, when the moon enters a new phase and external conditions change, goes into a retraction from the space it had previously conquered and settles back into a more traditional terrain that is easier to occupy and defend. Obviously, we conclude that a thesis of this kind must be verified over a longer period than the one examined here. We leave to future studies, therefore, a deeper analysis and further reflection on the long-term prospects of the populist turn we have observed in the parties of the radical European left.  

Interviews

The following is a list, divided by country and in alphabetical order, of all the persons interviewed in the course of this study. The job title for each corresponds to the position he or she occupied at the time of the interview and/or the most important political office held in the past. The research value of each interview and, more generally, of the sum total of all the interviews conducted of party leaders, general secretaries, national officials, and qualified witnesses from the principle PRLPs, is much greater than what is reported in the text. The volume contains transcripts only of extracts believed useful to highlight some of the most important aspects of the analysis. Nevertheless, the overall value of the interviews and conversations with all the persons indicated and with others not expressly mentioned (functionaries, party members, activists and sympathizers) are an integral part of the structure of the book. Much of the information acquired over the course of the study came out of the repeated contacts over time with the interviewees. In some cases, the sources made themselves available for multiple meetings aimed at tracking and examining situations as they evolved or adding supplementary material to what had previously been acquired. FRANCE, France insoumise: 1 2 3 4 5 6

Gabriel Amard (party leader); Manuel Bompard (campaign director for Mélenchon and Eurodeputy); Sophia Chikirou (party leader, communications consultant); Charlotte Girard (party leader and member of the election campaign); Djordje Kuzmanovic (party leader); Jean-Luc Mélenchon (leader di France insoumise).

GERMANY, Party of Democratic Socialists and Die Linke: 1 2 3 4 5

Dietmar Bartsch (ex-party whip in the Bundestag, member of parliament); Heinz Bierbaum (party leader, former vice-president of Die Linke); Fabio de Masi (former member of European parliament, member of Bundestag); Sahra Wagenknecht (party vice-president, elected to the Bundestag); Gabriele ‘Gabi’ Zimmer (former President of the PDS, elected to the Bundestag and the European parliament, party whip of the GUE/NGL).

178 Interviews GREECE, Syriza: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Yiannis Bournous (party leader and chief of international relations); Theano Fotiou (member of Central Committee, former vice-minister of Social Solidarity); Georgios Katrougalos (member of Central Committee, former foreign minister and minister of labour); Paulos Klavdianos (member of Central Committee of Syriza, director of “Epohi”); Danai Koltsida (member of Central Committee and director of the Poulantas Institute); Dimitris Papadimoulis (whip of Syriza Eurodeputies, vice-president of the European Parliament); Aggelos Tsekeris (former political director for Tsipras director di “Avgi”, daily newspaper of Syriza); Alexis Tsipras (former Prime minister, President of Syriza).

SPAIN, Podemos: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Santiago Alba Rico (writer and philosopher, co-founder of Podemos); Iñigo Errejón (co-founder and former political secretary of Podemos, leader of Más Pais); Pablo Iglesias (leader of Podemos); Juan Carlos Monedero (co-founder of Podemos); Manolo Monereo (former leader of PCE, member of parliament); Jorge Moruno (leader, member of the Consejo ciudadano estatal); Jaime Pastor (former leader of Izquierda anticapitalista, co-founder of Podemos).

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Index

15M 81–82, 84–86, 97n9, 119, 182 Adams, Gerry 137, 139, 156 Alba Rico, Santiago 86, 88–89, 97n14, 178 Amard, Gabriel 121, 124, 127, 129n13, 129n14, 169, 177, 179 anti-party parties 143–145, 147, 184 anti-system 1–2, 12n1, 144, 171 Aufstehen 72–74, 80n Bartsch, Dietmar 78, 80n22, 117 Belgium 9, 11, 44, 46, 130, 133–135, 138–139, 147, 156, 161, 168, 170n2, 175, 187 Benn, Tony 58 Berlin 1, 8–9, 13, 41–43, 65, 67, 70, 79, 134, 146, 164, 166, 168, 181, 191–193, 195 Bierbaum, Heinz 73, 80n13, 177 Bisky, Lothar 67–68, 70, 79–80n3, 80n4, 80n7, 156 Bloco de Esquerda 48 Bompard, Manuel 122, 127, 129n15, 177 bottom/top 29, 111, 130–131 Bournous, Yiannis 105, 114n13, 178 Bundestag 69, 72, 76–78, 177, 187 Canovan, Margaret 7, 12n4, 12n5, 12n6, 22, 36, 181 capitalism 15, 37, 45, 58, 73, 88, 123, 159, 183 capitalist 3, 5, 8, 13–16, 18, 22–23, 28, 32, 35, 37, 45–46, 54, 58, 62–63, 75, 119, 130, 134, 145, 158, 169, 171, 191 Carmena, Manuela 90, 92 caste 28, 34, 40, 45, 47, 88, 97n13, 132, 163 Chavez, Hugo 39, 96n6, 119 Chikirou, Sophia 122, 128, 129n16, 129n26, 177 citizens 3, 6, 19–21, 25, 27, 33–34, 38, 40, 42, 45, 52–54, 59, 61, 63n8, 66–67, 75–76, 89, 103, 105, 107, 114n14,

118–119, 123–124, 128n9, 132–133, 135, 137, 146, 150–152, 154, 159, 166, 169, 175, 194 Ciudadanos 89, 91, 93, 95, 181, 184 class 2–3, 10, 13–14, 16, 21–26, 28, 30, 31n1, 31n2, 31n4, 32–37, 39, 43–47, 51, 65–66, 72, 75–76, 81–82, 89, 99, 101, 120–121, 130, 132, 134–135, 144–145, 147, 150, 154, 158, 163–164, 169, 171–173, 180, 182, 185, 189–190 cleavage 19–20, 31n6, 35, 69, 130–131, 157, 170n2, 171, 180–181, 188–189, 195, 197 Coalition of the Radical Left 11, 44, 101–105, 107–108, 110, 112–113, 114n12, 147, 162, 168 Colau, Ada 90, 92 Communist Party of Greece 102, 114n8 Communist Refoundation Party 6, 49n6 community 16, 20, 23, 25, 31n6, 45–46, 51–53, 61, 92–93, 100, 114n8, 120, 131, 133, 136, 149, 151–152, 154–155, 159–160, 165–166, 168, 169, 170n4, 191 content analysis 47, 49n9, 52, 55–56, 63n1, 188, 192 Corbyn, Jeremy 44 Correa, Rafael 39 corruption 86, 91, 94, 97n13, 123 crisis 2–3, 6, 9–10, 14–15, 21–23, 28, 31n, 33–34, 36–37, 41–47, 49n7, 50, 58, 63, 69–71, 73, 81, 85–87, 90–91, 93, 95, 98–101, 103, 105–106, 108–110, 117, 119, 123–124, 128, 130, 133–135, 138–139, 142, 146–147, 149, 153, 156, 160, 162, 163, 168, 170–171, 175, 182, 184–186, 188–189, 191–193, 196 De Masi, Fabio 74, 80n17, 177 Democratic Party of the Left 6, 49n6

Index  199 Die Linke 9, 11, 43, 49, 55–56, 70–79, 80n6, 80n7, 80n21, 132, 146, 156, 161–162, 164, 172, 175, 177, 181, 184, 186–187 Dutch Socialist Party 44, 46, 130–133, 138, 142, 147, 156, 161, 167–168, 170, 175, 190 Echenique, Pablo 90 elite(s) 1, 3, 4–7, 9, 22, 25, 28, 30, 32–33, 35, 38, 44–47, 58, 66–67, 69, 75, 82, 86, 88, 100–101, 110–111, 144, 148, 150, 154–155, 157–159, 163, 168–169, 171–172, 175 Engels, Friedrich 13, 31, 62, 175, 190 Errejón, Iñigo 39, 87, 91–93, 95, 96–97n12, 97n19, 97n22, 151–178, 184 establishment 1–2, 18, 21, 33, 35, 38, 46, 70, 74, 100, 102, 104–105, 109, 111, 114n12, 117, 124, 130, 133, 139, 145, 147, 158, 167, 171, 179–181, 185, 195 ethno-regionalist parties 130, 137 European Central Bank 75, 86, 98, 114n14, 163, 168 European Commission 75, 86, 98, 114n14, 163, 166, 168 European Left Party 12, 108, 157 European Union 11, 34, 43–44, 60–61, 63, 71, 82, 98, 108, 114n12, 118, 133, 166, 168–170, 180 exclusionary 38–39, 171, 192 feminism 8, 37, 39, 52–57 Forza Italia 6 Fotiou, Theano 103, 114n10, 178 France 9, 25, 58, 60, 116–122, 124, 138, 153, 155, 160–161, 163, 165, 167, 172, 174, 177 France insoumise 9, 11, 29–30, 44, 47–48, 49n10, 117–128, 129n19, 129n22, 129n24, 145, 151, 155, 160–161, 163–165, 168, 172, 175–177, 189, 190 French Communist Party 49n6, 121, 128n8, 129n18, 165–167 French Socialist Party 118, 129n17 Front de gauche 118, 128, 167, 183, 189 Garzón, Alberto 90, 96 Germany 6, 9, 49, 65–67, 69, 70–72, 75, 77, 79n2, 79n5, 96, 98, 164–165, 168, 174, 177 Germani, Gino 12, 16, 36, 185 Girard, Charlotte 122, 124, 126, 129n14, 129n20, 129n22, 177 globalization 14, 19–22, 31n8, 34, 38, 45, 53, 58, 63, 72–73, 95, 130, 143, 145, 158, 169, 174, 189

Glorious Thirty 32, 58, 63n7 governance 2, 46, 58–59, 75, 98–99, 103–107, 113, 155–156, 158, 162–163, 168–169, 171, 177 government 4–5, 7, 9, 11, 14, 28, 39–40, 49n6, 53, 58–60, 63, 67–70, 72, 74, 79–80, 82, 90–95, 98, 101, 103–110, 113, 116, 118–119, 125, 128, 131–132, 135, 137, 139, 149–150, 152, 156, 161–165, 169, 170n1, 175, 179, 181, 184, 187–189, 192–194, 197 Gramsci, Antonio 2–3, 12n2, 22, 26, 31n1, 33–34, 36, 48n2, 183, 186, 189 Great Britain 53, 135–138, 142 Great Recession 2–3, 6, 9, 33, 41–44, 46, 70, 103, 108, 110, 119, 124, 130, 134, 139, 147, 168, 170–171, 175, 179, 188, 194 Greece 9, 43, 46, 98–102, 104–106, 108–110, 112, 114n8, 114n14, 115n18, 138, 147, 152–153, 162, 168, 172–173, 178–179, 185–188, 193, 196 Grexit 104–114n12 GUE/NGL 8, 12, 43, 47, 89, 108, 177 Gysi, Gregor 66–68, 70, 72–73, 75, 79n3, 80n7, 156 hegemony 7, 26, 62, 89, 91, 108, 123, 175, 181, 189, 193 historical bloc 22, 24, 26, 35, 44, 47, 51, 86, 159, 171 Hollande, François 116, 153, 131–133, 139, 153, 167, 170n2 Iglesias, Pablo 29–31, 48, 68, 61–62, 64n11, 87, 88–94, 97n9, 97n11, 97n13, 97n19, 97n23, 97n24, 145, 151–152, 155, 157n3, 187, 194 immigration 34, 72, 131, 139, 169, 175 inclusionary 38–39, 52, 171, 190, 192 indignados 9, 28, 47, 81–85, 87, 89, 93–94, 117, 119, 129n23, 152, 174, 176, 181 individualization 15–17, 22, 30, 32, 148, 180 inequality 14–15, 31n2, 40, 42, 63, 72, 97n13, 107, 189, 196 International Monetary Fund 75, 86, 98, 114n14, 168 Ireland 9, 11, 130–131, 135–137, 139–142, 165, 167–170n2, 173, 175, 189 Italian Communist Party 6, 63n8, 166, 170n4 Italian Socialist Party 6 Italy 6, 25, 36, 49n7, 53, 61, 83, 101, 180, 183–184, 197

200 Index Izquierda anti-capitalista 85–86, 90 Izquierda unida 48, 85–86, 89–91, 93–94, 96n6, 182, 194 Katrougalos, Georgios 114n18, 115n18, 178 Kipping, Katjia 71–72 Kirchner, Cristina 39 Kirchner, Nestor 39 KKE 102, 114n Klavdianos, Paulos 114, 178 Koltsida, Danai 104, 114, 178 Kriesi, Hanspeter 12n4, 17, 19–20, 31–34, 41, 73, 130, 143, 184, 188–189 Kuzmanovic, Djordje 125, 177 labour 1, 8, 32, 38, 44, 58, 69, 132–133, 139, 142n1, 171, 178, 184 Laclau, Ernesto 7, 12n4, 24, 26–28, 30, 34–37, 39, 43, 46, 56–57, 81, 148, 153, 171, 189 Lafontaine, Oskar 70–72, 79, 79n5, 80n9, 187 Lakoff, George 51–52, 54, 56, 189 Latin America 5–6, 26, 30, 33, 39, 89, 93, 119, 183, 188, 192 Lazar, Marc 35, 49, 121, 128n4, 182, 184, 189 leadership 4, 10–11, 30, 40, 44, 47–48, 66–68, 70, 72–74, 79n4, 79n5, 80n7, 82, 87, 90–92, 97n12, 100, 107–108, 113, 121, 123, 125–126, 134–137, 144–147, 149, 151–157, 161–162, 171, 180–181, 183, 195, 197 left-wing populism 1, 11, 32, 34–36, 38–39, 41–42, 173, 181–183, 185, 188 LFI 117, 121–128, 151–152, 163 Linkspartei 70, 76–77 logic of equivalence 26, 30 Loi Travail 116, 121, 152 Lordon, Frédéric 117, 128n1 losers 19–21, 73, 158 Lula 39 Macron, Emmanuel 121, 128, 129n18, 189–190 Maduro, Nicolas 39, 119 March, Luke 12n3, 34–35, 40, 75, 132–133, 142n1, 145, 172, 190 Marchais, Georges 118, 128n6, 170n4 Marijnissen, Jan 132, 156, 190 Marx, Karl 13, 31, 62, 179, 190–191 Mazzini, Giuseppe 61 Mélenchon, Jean-Luc 9, 30, 31n12, 48, 60, 62, 64, 117–121, 123–128, 128n8,

128n11, 128n12, 129n22, 145, 151, 155, 163, 165, 167, 177, 182–183, 189–191 memorandum 103–104, 106–107, 114n14, 162, 175 Merkel, Angela 70, 79 Mertens, Peter 134, 156 Mitterrand, François 58, 118, 129n3, 129n9 Monedero, Juan Carlos 83–86, 96n2, 96n6, 97n8, 178 Monereo, Manolo 91, 97n20, 178 Morales, Evo 39 Moruno, Jorge 91, 97n21, 178 Mouffe, Chantal 7, 33, 35–37, 39, 184, 189, 191 movement-party 85, 87, 89, 93, 119, 121, 123–124, 126, 152 Mudde, Cas 5–6, 12n3, 12n4, 34, 38–39, 75, 104, 143, 153, 172, 190, 192 Mujica, José 39, 199 multitude 22–25, 186, 191 neoliberal 14–15, 18, 20–22, 32, 34–35, 37, 41, 45, 48, 59–60, 68–69, 79, 105, 108–109, 114n12, 118, 135, 145, 159, 167, 171, 179, 191 neo-populism 6–7, 188, 245 Netherlands 9, 11, 23, 131–132, 138, 197 New Democracy 44, 98, 109–110, 112 Northern Ireland 9, 135, 137, 139–141, 165, 173 Northern League 6, 25 Nuit Debout 116–117, 121, 128n2, 152, 185 Occupy Wall Street 45, 49n7, 153, 181 oligarchy 2, 7, 33, 45, 47, 132, 169 Papadimoulis, Dimitris 114n12, 115n, 178 Partei des Demokratischen Sozialismus 9, 11 Parti communiste français 117, 182 Parti de gauche 118–119, 121, 129, 165 Parti du Travail de Belgique 9, 11, 44, 130 Parti socialiste 117–118, 128n9, 129n22 participation 2, 7, 17–18, 21, 38, 49n6, 52, 59, 83, 85, 87, 98, 102, 118, 124, 134, 137, 143–144, 146–150, 153, 160–161, 163–164, 182–183, 195 Party of Democratic Socialism 11, 43, 46, 68–70, 76, 192 Pasok 44, 98, 102–103, 108, 113 Pastor, Jaime 85–86, 96n5, 178

Index  201 PDS 6, 11, 42–43, 65–71, 75–79, 146, 168, 175, 177, 180, 185, 187–188, 190–193 people 2, 4–7, 9–11, 20, 22, 24–30, 31n10, 33–36, 38–39, 42–47, 51–53, 58, 60–62, 66, 69, 73, 75, 81–84, 86–89, 91, 99–107, 109, 111, 113, 119–124, 127, 128n10, 129n23, 133–136, 148, 150–155, 157–160, 162–163, 168–171, 173–174, 182–184, 191, 193, 195–196 People’s Party 5 Perón, Juan Domingo 39 Podemos 9, 11, 28–30, 31n11, 42–44, 47–48, 55–57, 61, 83–95, 97n12, 97n9, 97n12, 97n13, 97n16, 97n19, 97n20, 110, 124, 127, 145, 150–152, 155, 157, 160–162, 164, 168, 172, 174–176, 178, 181–185, 187–189, 193–194, 196 political communication 123, 127, 153, 158–161, 179–180, 187, 194 political organization 11, 15, 17–18, 22, 24, 26, 36, 85, 87, 102, 110, 118, 125–126, 144–145, 147, 149, 151, 160 populism 1, 4–7, 11, 12n4, 12n5, 12n6, 12n7, 34–36, 38–39, 41–42, 46, 52, 56, 66, 75, 92, 111, 130, 153, 158, 171, 173–174, 179–197 populist democracy 7, 12n5, 190 populist radical left parties 1–2, 7, 29, 40–42, 45–48, 50–51, 57, 143, 148, 151, 156, 158–159, 162–163, 166, 168, 171, 174–175 PRLPs 1–2, 4, 7, 9–12, 40–48, 50–55, 57–63, 69, 71–72, 75, 101, 109–110, 121, 124, 129n23, 130–131, 135, 137–138, 142–145, 147–169, 171–175, 177 pro-system 13, 104, 145, 161, 171, 173 PSOE 82–83, 88–90, 93–95, 97, 161–162, 164 PTB 42, 44, 130, 133–135, 139, 193 Puerta del Sol 81, 84–85, 94, 100 radical democracy 7, 39–40, 48n5, 51–52, 163, 171, 173, 175, 191, 193 radical left 1–2, 4, 7–11, 12n3, 29, 39–42, 44–48–52, 57–58, 63, 66, 67, 68–69, 72, 75–76, 89, 96n6, 101–105, 107–108, 110–113, 114n, 118, 125, 130–131, 143, 147–149, 151, 153, 156, 158–159, 161–166, 168, 170–171, 173–175, 182–183, 187–190, 193–194 Rajoy, Mariano 90, 94 Reagan, Ronald 48, 59

religion 16, 31n10, 34, 50, 59–60, 100, 120, 155, 185, 132, 156, 203 resentment 2, 21, 40, 46–47, 66, 76, 81, 148, 185 Riexinger, Bernard 71–72 ruling class 3, 21, 28, 33–34, 45, 58, 65–66, 72, 75–76, 89, 101, 120, 130, 132, 144, 169 Sánchez, Pedro 87, 90–91, 95, 161–162, 170, 194 Sartori, Giovanni 1, 12n1, 32, 104, 144, 172, 194 Scotland 138 Scottish Socialist Party 137 Sinn Féin 9, 11, 44, 46, 130–131, 135–140, 142, 147, 156, 161, 165, 167–168, 170, 173, 175, 180–181, 187, 189, 190 Sixième République 119, 180 Social Democratic Party of Germany 67 social imaginary 10, 50–57, 63, 146 socialism 5, 11, 43, 46, 65–70, 76, 134, 145–147, 170, 180–181, 189–190, 192 Socialist Party 6, 9, 11, 44, 46, 92, 118, 123, 125, 127, 129n17, 130–133, 135, 137–139, 142, 147, 156, 161, 167–168, 170, 175, 190–191 Socialistische Partij 130–131, 133 sovereignism 62 sovereigntist 48, 54, 57–58, 60–62, 71–72, 118 Spain 9, 47–48, 61, 81–84, 86, 89–92, 94–95, 97n12, 101, 117, 119, 138, 153, 162–163, 172, 174, 178, 181, 185, 188, 193–194 SPD 67, 69–70, 73–74, 77, 79, 79n2, 79n5, 80n7, 161–162, 164 Synaspismos 9, 102, 114, 156, 166, 191 Syntagma Square 47, 100–104, 112, 152–153, 162 Syriza 9, 11, 43–44, 46, 49n10, 62, 101–113, 114n12, 145–147, 152, 156, 161–162, 164, 166, 168–169, 172, 175, 178–179, 182, 188, 190, 192, 193, 195 Taggart, Paul 6, 12n4, 153, 168, 193–194, 196–197 TCE 118, 167 Thatcher, Margaret 38, 48, 59 Tsekeris, Aggelos 114n9, 114n15, 178 Tsipras, Alexis 62, 64n12, 102–108, 111–113, 115n20, 115n23, 152, 156–157, 162, 172, 178

202 Index Unidas Podemos 94–95, 161 Unidos Podemos 94 United States 3, 5, 48, 134, 165, 168, 192 us/them 4, 30, 69, 130, 170 Valls, Manuel 116, 119, 152 value(s) 8, 10, 16, 18, 20–21, 23, 25–26, 28, 42, 45, 47–48, 50–58, 60–61, 63, 69, 89, 95, 107, 115n18, 130, 144, 146, 148, 154, 160, 169, 174–175, 177, 187 Varoufakis, Yanis 105 Wagenknecht, Sahra 68, 72–74, 80n12, 80n14, 80n18, 177 Wall Street 3, 45, 49n7, 88, 153, 181 WASG 69–71, 76–77, 79n5, 193

welfare 21, 32, 40–41, 48, 58–59, 62, 72, 74, 83, 97n7, 104–105, 112, 132, 137, 158, 169, 197 Western Europe 1, 3–4, 6–10, 29, 37–38, 41–43, 45, 47, 63, 72, 101, 124, 129n23, 135, 143, 153, 166, 173–174, 179–182, 184, 188–189, 192, 196 winners 19–21 Workers’ Party of Belgium 11, 44, 46, 130, 133–134, 138–139, 147, 156, 161, 168, 170n2, 175 working class 22–23, 31, 44, 47, 52, 81, 130, 132, 134–135, 172 Zimmer, Gabriele 68, 74, 79, 80n16, 177, 195