What is it about?

This article focuses on the policies and language of four right-wing Eurosceptic politicians before and after the 2019 elections to the European Parliament: Ivan David of Freedom and Direct Democracy in the Czech Republic, Nigel Farage of the United Kingdom’s Brexit Party, Matteo Salvini of the League in Italy and Milan Uhrik of Slovakia’s People’s Party Our Slovakia. A key issue investigated is that of sovereignism, the defence of the political independence of nation states as opposed to the federalism and pooled sovereignty that an organisation such as the European Union inevitably involves. All four of these politicians employ the rhetoric of reclaiming for their national governments powers they believe have been usurped by Brussels, although there are significant differences concerning how each proposes to achieve that repatriation of decision-making. In promoting the case for a truly independent sovereign state they seek to create a polarising ‘us versus them’ dichotomy between ‘the people’ (ordinary individuals who have their country’s national interests at heart) and ‘the elite’ (the cosmopolitan ruling class). The notion of taking back control is obviously relevant to the issue of immigration and in some cases to the alleged determination of the elite to impose laws to protect the rights of LGBT people. This study involves a founding member of the original European Economic Community (Italy), a country that in 2019 had already voted in a referendum to leave the EU (the UK) and two of the most recent additions to the European Union (although only Slovakia has adopted the euro). Further historical, economic and demographic differences mean that although the four politicians investigated are united by the cause of sovereignism, it emerges that each has his own highly specific concerns about why continued membership of the EU on the current terms is not in his nation’s best interests.

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Why is it important?

In several EU member states Eurosceptical parties have increased their share of the popular vote in recent years. It is important to investigate why so many electors are becoming disillusioned with the European Union.


Co-writing this article gave me the opportunity to work with a young colleague who brought fresh insights to subject investigated.

Steve Buckledee

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Discursive (re)construction of populist sovereignism by right-wing hard Eurosceptic parties in the 2019 European parliament elections, Journal of Language and Politics, January 2021, John Benjamins, DOI: 10.1075/jlp.20024.bru.
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