The state for which people? The (not so) left populism of the Macedonian far-left party Levica
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. Demonstrating the contradictions between official party communication and social media posts by its leader, the article concludes that Levica is in fact a valenced or polyvalent populist party, as it lacks the inclusivity principle common for left populists. Importantly, however, the article finds that Levica consistently utilises populism in all of its conceptualisations – as ideology, as strategy and as discursive style –- a rare practice for populist political actors.
Ivo Bosilkov is an assistant professor at the School of Political Science and Psychology at the University American College in Skopje. He holds a joint-degree PhD in political science from the Network for the Advancement of Social and Political Studies at the University of Milan and the Amsterdam School of Communication Research at the University of Amsterdam. The topic of his PhD dissertation was the effects of exposure to immigration news on the populist attitudes of Macedonian citizens. He is a former research fellow at the Centre for Southeast European Stud-ies at the University of Graz.
1. How can valenced and left populist parties be differentiated conceptually?
2. How could left wing authoritarianism influence a party's populist approach?
3. How does communication on social media reveal a political actor's populist style, in the absence of a clear discursive delineation between the people and the elite?
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