The state for which people? The (not so) left populism of the Macedonian far-left party Levica

  • Ivo Bosilkov
Assessing the political principles of the Macedonian far left party Levica (The Left) has been an elusive task for political commentators and scholars alike since its emergence in 2016. However, the importance of categorising the party has further increased after its success in the 2020 parliamentary elections in North Macedonia, marked by a series of controversial statements by its leader, Dimitar Apasiev. As many pundits interpreted the violent undertones of Apasiev’s words as an indication of Levica’s ‘fascist’ intentions, the focus has shifted away from its key feature: populism. While this article does not attempt to deny Levica’s self-definition as a far-left party, it does scrutinise the party’s claim to be a member of the ‘left-populist’ family of parties.

Anti-intellectualism or Populism alla turca

  • Funda Gençoğlu
This article deals with how populism as a global phenomenon manifests itself in Turkish politics. It argues that the core element of populism alla turca is anti-intellectualism, and that although populism has traditionally been a component of the discourses of major actors in Turkey, on both the right and the left of the political spectrum, in its current form, its content is in large part anti-intellectualism. It is an ideological apparatus consciously used by those in power to reproduce and strengthen the neoliberal conservative hegemony in Turkey which has been installed and consolidated during the rule of Justice and Development Party since 2002. It also claims that the phenomenon of populism and its increasing popularity – theoretical and practical – needs to be linked to the concept of hegemony.

The Slovenian Early Parliamentary Elections of 2018

  • Marko Lovec
Early parliamentary elections were held in Slovenia on 3 June 2018. The reason for holding early elections was the collapse of the centre-left coalition government due to weak public support, especially for the main coalition party, and attempts by its coalition partners to improve their position by distancing themselves from the coalition leader. The prime minister and leader of the main coalition party responded to this by resigning. Nevertheless, the fact that the coalition lasted for almost four years demonstrates improvement in terms of political stability, especially in comparison to the turbulent period 2008-2013.

Are ‘United Left’ and ‘Human Blockade’ Populist on Facebook? A Comparative Analysis of Electoral Campaigns

  • Alessandro Albertini,
  • Dina Vozab
This paper aims to analyse the extent to which new political parties in Croatia and Slovenia use populist political communication discourse in social media. This paper focuses on two new parties that entered the parliament in the most recent elections: Živi zid (Human Blockade) in Croatia, and Združena levica (United Left) in Slovenia. The paper will analyse these parties’ political communication on Facebook. The main question guiding the analysis is: to what extent are new parties in Croatia and Slovenia populist in their political communication on Facebook? The method used in the paper will be content analysis, with a Facebook post as a unit of analysis. The content analysis will be performed on posts published over a period of two weeks prior to the general elections (electoral campaigns).

On Populist Pop Culture: Ethno as the Contemporary Political Ideology in Serbia

  • Irena Šentevska
This study attempts to shift the debate of the contemporary facets of populist ideologies from the realm of institutional politics to the realm of everyday life, popular culture, media and “invented traditions”. My intention is to demonstrate how these realms generate new sources and voices of populism, often downplayed in the academic debates on the subject. The paper stems from comprehensive research on discourses of identity (re)construction in post-Yugoslav Serbia as communicated in pop-cultural media forms (specifically, music videos of all genres), in which I used a sample of 4733 music videos produced between 1980 and 2010 (and later). In this paper, I have chosen to focus on the case of the charity campaign Podignimo Stupove and its music video output.

When is Populism Acceptable? The Involvement of Intellectuals in the Bulgarian Summer Protests in 2013

  • Georgi Medarov
Populism is frequently understood as democratic illiberalism. Concrete policies that have been implemented by governing populist parties in Bulgaria, however, have been surprisingly liberal, at least in economic terms. This poses the question whether it is possible to have the opposite of democratic illiberalism, namely, liberal populism. This article investigates the elective affinities between liberal and populist discourses during the Bulgarian Summer protests in 2013. This investigation is done with a strong focus on intellectuals' interpretations as their function is not merely reflective description, but is also formative and prescriptive of political identities. The main argument is that throughout the 2013 Summer protests there was visible tendency of articulation between populist and liberal discourses.

Authoritarian Populism and Hegemony: Constructing ‘the People’ in Macedonia’s illiberal discourse

  • Ljupcho Petkovski
This paper is a theoretically driven case study of the authoritarian populist reign of VMRO-DPMNE and its leader Nikola Gruevski in Macedonia since 2006. At the beginning, I assess the strengths and identify the pitfalls of the dominant approach to studying populism that sees populist politics as democratic illiberalism. Then I argue that this approach should be complemented with a discourse theoretical methodology that renders us more sensitive to the diachronic dimensions of the rise of Gruevski’s populism and its origins. The crucial concept I use to account for the durability of Gruvski’s reign is hegemony, which helps us to understand two important aspects of his populism.

Populism and Anti-Establishment Politics in Kosovo: A Case Study of Lëvizja Vetëvendosje

  • Bilge Yabanci
Few studies have systematically examined the rising political and social unrest in the Balkans. This paper investigates the local dynamics and consequences of widespread anti-establishment discontent in Kosovo through the analytical framework of populism. By focusing on the case of Lëvizja Vetëvendosje (LVV), the paper sets out to consider two related questions: the unique populist style of the LVV and the complex reasons behind its electoral breakthrough and continuing support among various groups. Based on a qualitative documentary analysis of the party programme, manifesto, party publications, speeches of the leadership and interviews, the paper finds that the LVV successfully melds a populist political style, leftist/social democratic agenda and contentious politics as a means to disperse its message.

Textual Analysis of Populist Discourse in 2014/2015 Presidential Election in Croatia

  • Marijana Grbeša,
  • Berto Šalaj
Populism has been vastly present in Croatian media discourse as a common point of reference but it has been almost completely left out from scientific inquiry. Building on the premise that populism is reflected in communication practices of politicians, parties and movements, this paper uses content analysis to examine interviews of the four presidential candidates during election campaign in Croatia in 2014 (first round) and 2015 (second round). We apply a two-level approach to measure populism on two distinct but related levels - as a thin-centered political ideology and as a political communication style. Populism as ideology is examined through the presence of positive references to the people, relationship to political elites and references to ‘dangerous others’.