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Bauska’s Chairmen: Party Leadership and Twitter Engagement in Estonian and Latvian Populist Far-Right Parties

Abstract

Political parties in the Baltic states remain largely understudied, especially when it comes to the populist radical right (PRR). Currently, two of the three Baltic countries have PRR parties represented in their national parliaments, Nacionā lā apvienī ba (the National Alliance, henceforth the NA) in Latvia and Eesti Konservatiivne Rahvaerakond (the Conservative People’s Party of Estonia, henceforth EKRE) in Estonia. Both parties have charismatic leaders and are led in a top-down manner, keeping in line with the literature on this party family. Many political actors in numerous countries make ample use of Twitter and other social media, and the PRR in particular has proved very successful at using social media to their advantage.

My article provides a comparison between the leadership of the two aforementioned parties, using a paired comparison method, highlighting the position of the party leader; how each leader is selected; the political activity of party leaders; the electoral activity of each leader; and, finally, an analysis of how each party leader uses the social media microblogging site, Twitter.

The NA and EKRE are similar in that they are both parties which can be categorized in the PRR party family and are nationalist parties in countries which experienced Soviet occupation as well as the policy of Russification. Further, until quite recently1, both have directed nativist policies around language issues and the Russian-speaking population (Auers and Kasekamp 2013, Wierenga 2017). Therefore, the NA and EKRE make for an ideal comparison.2

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Change and Stability. How the Party Leaderships of the Danish Progress Party and Danish People’s Party are Organized

Abstract

The purpose of this article is to show the role played by the party leadership in the Progress Party and the Danish People’s Party in the formation and consolidation of party organization, policy and strategy. The added knowledge provided by this article is an elaboration on one of the successful so-called radical right political parties of this century, namely the Danish People’s Party, and its predecessor, the Progress Party, for the non-Danish speaking audience. Based on a plethora of data sources (interviews, documents, surveys and secondary material), the analysis shows that the differences in how the Progress Party and the Danish People’s Party are organized are much larger than any organizational modifications after the party leader change from Kjærsgaard to Thulesen Dahl. While Kjærsgaard was not able to implement marked organizational changes within the Progress Party, she did stand for a different strategy and policy than Glistrup, focusing on parliamentary influence, and a right-wing position on the new politics dimension, but more pro welfare on the redistributive dimension. There were no substantial changes in organization, strategy or policy when Thulesen Dahl took over the leadership of the Danish People’s Party; however, the strategy prior to the 2019 election did change. In sum, the overall expectation that party organisational change was larger when Kjærsgaard took over from Glistrup in the Progress Party, and in particular when establishing the new Danish People’s Party, than when Thulesen Dahl took over from Kjærsgaard, is mainly supported.

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Party Leaders in the Czech Populist Parties and Movements

Abstract

The aim of this article is to analyse the role and importance of leaders in the Czech populist parties and movements, as well as determining significant factors which condition their institutionalisation. The main focus will be placed on the role of leaders in establishing their respective parties, their formal position and intraparty selection processes in VV, ANO, SPD and ÚPD. Examples of actions taken by the leaders of ANO and SPD show that building populist parties on the foundation of the strong, formal and official position of the leader in their party as well as becoming open to more members prove effective when it comes to the discussed issues...

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Populist Parties in Lithuania: Curious Case of Party Order and Justice and its Leadership

Abstract

The article discusses conceptualisation of populism, Lithuania’s party system and electoral dynamics and their relation to the sustainability of populist parties. Special attention is given to Party Order and Justice, a former populist and protest party, and its leadership, namely to the issues related to scope and competencies of a leader’s intra-partisan power, leadership selection rules and history, development of leaders’ political careers and their electoral activity. The L ithuanian party system now exhibits moderate fragmentation without centrifugal tendencies. Voter volatility is still relatively high, yet the share of new parties has dropped to zero. The protest and populist parties in Lithuania went into the margins of political establishment. Popularity of the Order and Justice party has long been connected to the formerly impeached president Rolandas Paksas. His long-term leadership in the face of plummeting electoral support and an emphasis on his political martyrdom resulted in poor electoral performances, ensuing internal squabbles and his departure. Party Order and Justice’s internal regulations, however, remained favourable to strong leadership.

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Populist Party Leaders in Belgium: an Analysis of VB AND PVDA-PTB

Abstract

This article scrutinizes the position and the role of the party leader in two populist parties in Belgium: Vlaams Belang (VB) and Partij van de Arbeid — Parti du Travail de Belgique (PVDA-PTB). Following Mudde’s definition, populism is understood as a people-centered and anti-elitist ideology. The article argues that, if one accepts the notion that parties will organize themselves in line with their ideological beliefs, then one should expect populist parties to exhibit three main characteristics: leaders are directly elected by the party members, they have extensive powers with only minimal intra-party institutional checks, and they feature strongly in electoral campaigns. Applying this argument to the two Belgian populist parties, the article finds only limited evidence for the argument that populist parties mirror their ideology in the role and position of their party leader.

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Right-Wing Populist Party Leadership in Sweden: One of a Kind or one of the Crowd?

Abstract

Are right-wing populist parties fundamentally different from other types? This article explores one aspect of what we call the exceptionalist thesis. The thesis could be applied to a wide range of party characteristics, but here we focus on leadership. In this context, our case study is of the Sweden Democrats (SD). First, we examine how SD selects its leader. Second, we assess how leadership works in practice in SD, especially regarding party management. We also review how this leadership style has gone down with voters. We mix our own interpretation of these data with other scholars’ assessments. Generally, we find little evidence, at least in this exploratory inquiry, to support the exceptionalist thesis.

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Twins In Power. Jarosław Kaczyński and Lech Kaczyński as Leaders of Law and Justice

Abstract

Rarely do twins play active and significant roles in politics. Yet in 2006 President of the Republic of Poland, Lech Kaczyński, designated his twin brother Jarosław to be prime minister. The aim of the current publication is to analyse the political activity of Lech and Jarosław Kaczyński in the context of the founding of PiS and its functioning. Their position inside the party is undisputed. Moreover, as there is no opposition inside the party and Jarosław Kaczyński achieves spectacular electoral results, his legitimisation as autonomous leader of the party is strengthened even further.

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When Charisma is no Longer Enough. Insights on Populist Parties’ Leadership from the (Northern) League

Abstract

Several scholars of populism have pointed out that populist parties rely very oft en on so-called charismatic leadership (Canovan, 1981; McDonnell, 2015). While the rise of populist parties in Europe in the last decade is quite evident and well-studied, what remains understudied is how this phenomenon interacts with other transformations that are currently shaping parties and party systems in European democracies. In particular, what is the interplay between the rise of populism, political leadership and personalization of politics? This link between populism and leadership could be understood in the light of the change occurring within party organizations, and internal party democratization in particular (Musella, 2015; Pogunkte and Webb, 2007; Karvonen, 2010; Scarrow et al. 2017). Following these studies underlining a close relationship between populism, leadership and inclusive leadership selection methods, in this paper we aim at empirically exploring how the personalization and democratization of organizational patterns affect the role of the leader in populist parties. To what extent does the use of inclusive selection methods of party leaders within populist parties affect the scope of their organizational power and strengthens the party’s personalization patterns? To explore this research question, we focus on a case study, the Lega Nord (LN) in Italy as an empirical illustration and we rely on original survey data, on aggregated electoral data as well as on primary and secondary data on party organizational rules.

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The Average Citizen Vs. The Court: Polish Citizens Trust in the Judiciary in the Period of Judicial Reforms (From 2015 to the Present)

Abstract

The Constitutional Crisis, which started in 2015 and has resulted in several bills aiming to “repair” the functioning of this institution, has undermined Polish citizens’ trust not only in political institutions such as the Sejm and the President but also in the judiciary. The level of trust in public institutions in general tends to be low in Polish society, but recent events and the circumstances in which the bills regarding the Constitutional Tribunal, common courts, the National Council of the Judiciary and the Supreme Court were passed, has led to a politicization of judicial institutions. Society, though, is very divided and opinions of the judiciary may vary and may depend on political preferences as well as many other factors.

The aim of this paper is to examine the attitude of Polish society towards the judiciary in the period of time from 2015 until now. I will also analyze the public campaign Just courts (Sprawiedliwe sądy) in the context of media content’s influence on public perception of the judiciary. The findings of this analysis could also contribute to the explanations of government’s ability to pass the bills with decreasing protest from the population even though the bills were deemed unconstitutional.

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