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Onwards to the New Political Frontier: Macron’s Electoral Populism

Fougère, Martin and Barthold, Charles (2020). Onwards to the New Political Frontier: Macron’s Electoral Populism. Organization (Early access).

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DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link: https://doi.org/10.1177/1350508420910567
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Abstract

This speaking out article argues that populism is not only a phenomenon that characterizes extremist figures such as Farage, Trump or Le Pen. Drawing on Laclau’s conceptualization of populism, we show how French President Emmanuel Macron developed in 2017 a form of anti-extreme electoral populism relying upon (1) the creation of a new political frontier between ‘progressive reformers’ and ‘backward-looking conservatives’, and (2) a number of key empty signifiers, such as ‘Revolution’, ‘(The Republic) onwards’ and ‘and at the same time’. These discursive levers allowed Macron’s campaigns to incarnate a gradually larger plurality of demands, modulating the openness of equivalential chains over three successful electoral steps: the presidential first round, the presidential second round, and the parliamentary elections. In parallel, his movement gradually moved from emergent organizing through a partial organization to a bureaucratized and hierarchized party. Thus, our analysis illuminates how Macron organized his own populism, based on a completely new movement: Macron’s electoral populism exploited the middle space left vacant by all other candidates, it relied on its own anti-establishment discourse, and in doing so it succeeded in unifying much more demands than other populisms, leading to a landslide win in the French parliamentary elections.

Item Type: Journal Item
ISSN: 1461-7323
Keywords: Empty signifiers; Equivalential chains; Laclau; Macron; Populism
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Business and Law (FBL) > Business > Department for People and Organisations
Faculty of Business and Law (FBL) > Business
Faculty of Business and Law (FBL)
Item ID: 68374
Depositing User: Charles Barthold
Date Deposited: 04 Dec 2019 15:01
Last Modified: 24 Mar 2020 15:22
URI: http://oro.open.ac.uk/id/eprint/68374
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