While the literature has widely explored the organisational strategies of populist radical right parties (PRRPs) on the fringes, little is known about the grassroots activism of mainstream PRRPs. We focus on the Italian League and the Swiss People’s Party (SVP), two mainstream PRRPs that have a long pedigree of government experience, to investigate if, how and why they invest in extensive activities at the local level to reach the public, despite their pivotal position in the national political scene. Methodologically, we rely on 120 interviews with members and representatives of these two PRRPs to identify the key grassroots activities they carry out at the local level and their perceived goals. The analysis reveals that despite their mainstream status, both the League and SVP still perceive to suffer from stigmatisation and demonisation, as they are not fully accepted as legitimate actors by the public. For this reason, they engage in grassroots activities and activism at the local level, the one closest to the everyday life and concerns of ordinary citizens. Grassroots activism aims to improve the legitimacy of PRRPs, by delivering the idea that their members and activists are normal people committed to help the local communities and not extremists.

Building legitimacy: why the populist radical right engages in grassroots activism at the local level

Mattia Zulianello
2023-01-01

Abstract

While the literature has widely explored the organisational strategies of populist radical right parties (PRRPs) on the fringes, little is known about the grassroots activism of mainstream PRRPs. We focus on the Italian League and the Swiss People’s Party (SVP), two mainstream PRRPs that have a long pedigree of government experience, to investigate if, how and why they invest in extensive activities at the local level to reach the public, despite their pivotal position in the national political scene. Methodologically, we rely on 120 interviews with members and representatives of these two PRRPs to identify the key grassroots activities they carry out at the local level and their perceived goals. The analysis reveals that despite their mainstream status, both the League and SVP still perceive to suffer from stigmatisation and demonisation, as they are not fully accepted as legitimate actors by the public. For this reason, they engage in grassroots activities and activism at the local level, the one closest to the everyday life and concerns of ordinary citizens. Grassroots activism aims to improve the legitimacy of PRRPs, by delivering the idea that their members and activists are normal people committed to help the local communities and not extremists.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11368/3060938
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