The Other Side of the Medal : A Case Study of Right-Wing Populist Party Identity in German Newspaper Discourse

University essay from Stockholms universitet/Statsvetenskapliga institutionen

Abstract: Nowadays, liberal democratic societies comprise the breeding ground for thriving right-wing populist parties. They share the “fundamental core of ethno-nationalist xenophobia, (…) and anti-political establishment populism” (Rydgren, 2004 p.475). Coeval research has acknowledged the threat that is entailed in the bespoken phenomenon; yet, its account is incomplete.  This study follows Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, in objecting to the individualist and rationalist tenets that inform previous research, to accentuate a neglected lens on the thrive of right-wing populism in Western liberal democracies. Their discourse theoretical frame was herein used as both theory and method, in a discourse analysis of the Alternative für Deutschland’s (AfD) identity in German online newspaper discourse. The empirical material comprised 97 articles from Germany’s most popular national daily newspapers, which reported on the AfD in parliament, an AfD demonstration in Berlin, and the AfD’s youth organisation’s congress throughout April, May and June 2018. Ultimately, the study arrived at the conclusion that the sampled newspaper discourse identified ‘us’, the ‘benevolent democrats’ via the exclusion, and rejection of ‘them’, the ‘wicked right-wing populists’. Since such relation was markedly antagonistic proper, newspaper discourse may be considered to have contributed to the recent thrive of right-wing populism in Germany.

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