Populism and exclusionary narratives: The ‘other’ in Podemos’ 2014 European Union election campaign
Populist political parties have become a key feature of the European political landscape. In addition to claiming to be identified with the people, many of these parties are characterized by exclusionary narratives which centre on groups such as immigrants and religious minorities, a feature considered by many analysts as specific to right-wing populism. Left-wing populism is frequently defined as sharing right-wing populism’s identification with the people and its anti-elitism but not its attachment to exclusionary narratives. This study joins other recent work in challenging that assumption, providing evidence for the contention that anti-elitism is also a form of excluding populist communication. Using Van Dijk’s methodological approach to the analysis of the discursive positioning of ‘Us/ Them’ and elements of Burke’s dramatistic pentad, this article examines the party and electoral communication of Podemos, the self-described, left-wing populist Spanish political party, from its foundation in January 2014 up until the close of the European Union parliamentary election campaign in May 2014. The study shows that an exclusionary narrative was integral to Podemos’ campaign communication in that a group of people identified as the caste (la casta) constituted the stigmatized out-group in contraposition to the in-group of the ‘people’ which included immigrants and the leaders of Podemos. This suggests that populist parties or politicians of all ideological stripes may be characterized by exclusionary and stigmatizing narratives.
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