“Self-Other, and the Oppositional Discursive Logic behind Populist Foreign Policy. The Case of the Lega Nord”

Abstract

The chapter addresses the influence of populist communication on international political processes and outcomes by analysing the case of the Italian party Lega Nord (LN). The claim advanced is that populist foreign policy does not have a substantively specific content, but is characterized by a single oppositional discursive logic that is given different substantive contents depending on the policy arena. More specifically, while the Self is organically linked with conceptions of group identity developed at home, the chapter shows that the articulations of the Other are informed by the policy field at hand, and the overall structure is then actualised in the policy arena through specific policy decisions. On these terms, the influence of populist discourse on foreign policy is not a substantive ideology resulting from the linear translation of the traditional ‘people vs elite’ antagonism. Rather, it amounts to forcing foreign policy into a variable Self-Other logic—which also creates the grounds for contradictory positions held by populist parties in international policy arenas. The chapter develops these arguments through an analysis of the LN separatist rhetoric—itself taken as a case of foreign policy—and the conduct within the European Union as a policy arena during an eight-year timeframe

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Last time updated on 04/12/2023

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