The potentials and difficulties of transnational populism : The case of the democracy in Europe movement 2025 (DiEM25)

Abstract

The Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 (DiEM25), launched by former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, seeks to construct a transnational left political project to ‘democratise Europe’. Its construction of a European ‘people’ against an international elite raises questions about the potentials of populism beyond the nation-state. Building on a discourse-theoretical distinction between populism and nationalism, the article asks whether DiEM25 is a truly transnational populist movement. Through an analysis of the movement’s manifestoes, speeches, press releases and published interviews with DiEM25 leaders, the article shows how DiEM25 constructs a ‘European people’ in opposition to an international ‘elite’, how DiEM25 oscillates between speaking for national ‘peoples’ and a transnational ‘people’, and how it negotiates its populism, nationalism and transnationalism. The article contributes to the theorisation of populism beyond the usually assumed nation-state level and shines a light on the potentials and limitations of transnational populism as an as-yet understudied political development

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