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.
If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.
Aalberg T. Esser F. Reinemann C. Stromback J. & De Vreese C. (eds.) (2016) Populist political communication in Europe New York and London Routledge.
Albertazzi D. (2007). Addressing ‘the People’: A Comparative Study of the Lega Nord’s and Lega dei Ticinesi’s Political Rhetoric and Styles of Propaganda. Modern Italy 12(3) pp. 327–347.
Albertazzi D. (2016). Going Going … Not Quite Gone Yet? Bossi’s Lega’ and the Survival of the Mass Party. Contemporary Italian Politics 8 (1) pp. 1–16.
Albertazzi D. & McDonnell D. (eds.) (2008). Twenty-first century populism: The spectre of Western European democracy. Houndmills Palgrave Macmillan.
Albertazzi D. & McDonnell D. (2015). Populists in power. London and New York Routledge.
Albertazzi D. Giovannini A. & Seddone A. (2018). ‘No regionalism please we are Leghisti!’ The transformation of the Italian Lega Nord under the leadership of Matteo Salvini. Regional & Federal Studies 28(5) pp. 645–671.
Biorcio R. (2017). The Northern League in O. Mazzoleni and S. Mueller (eds.) Regionalist Parties in Western Europe: Dimensions of Success. London Routledge pp. 135–151.
Blondel J. & Thiébault J.L. (eds.) (2009). Political leadership parties and citizens. The personalisation of leadership. London and New York Routledge.
Bobba G. (2018). Social Media Populism: Features and ‘Likeability’ of Lega Nord Communication on Facebook. European Political Science. doi:10.1057/s41304–017-0141–8.
Bordandini P. Virgilio A. D. & Raniolo F. (2008). The birth of a party: the case of the Italian Partito Democratico. South European Society & Politics 13(3) pp. 303–324.
Calise M. (2010 first edition 2000). Il Partito Personale. Roma and Bari Laterza.
Canovan M. . Taking politics to the people: Populism as the ideology of democracy in Y. Mény & Y. Surel (eds.) Democracies and the populist challenge. London Palgrave Macmillan pp. 25–44.
Canovan M. (1981). Populism. New York Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
De Lange S. & Art D. (2011). Fortuyn versus Wilders: An Agency-Based Approach to Radical Right Party Building West European Politics 34 (6) pp. 1229–1249.
Diamanti I. (1996). Il male del Nord. Lega localismo secessione. Roma Donzelli.
Diamanti I. (2017). La Lega oltre Bossi e la Padania. La Repubblica March 17 2017.
Engesser S. Ernst N. Esser F. & Büchel F. (2017). Populism and social media: How politicians spread a fragmented ideology. Information Communication & Society 20(8) pp. 1109–1126.
Garzia D. (2011). The personalization of politics in Western democracies: Causes and consequences on leader-follower relationships. The Leadership Quarterly 22(4) pp. 697–709.
Gerbaudo P. (2018). Social media and populism: an elective affinity?. Media Culture & Society 40(5) pp. 745–753.
Itanes (2018). Vox populi. Il voto ad alta voce del 2018. Bologna il Mulino.
Jagers J. & Walgrave S. (2007). Populism as political communication style: An empirical study of political parties’ discourse in Belgium. European Journal of Political Research 46(3) pp. 319–345.
Karvonen L. (2010). The personalisation of politics: a study of parliamentary democracies. Colchester Ecpr Press.
Katz R.S. & Mair P. (eds.) (1994). How parties organize: change and adaptation in party organizations in Western democracies. London Thousand Oaks and New Delhi Sage.
Kenig O. . Democratization of Party Leadership Selection: Do Wider Selectorates Produce More Competitive Contests?. Electoral Studies 28(2) pp. 240–247.
Kriesi H. (2014). The populist challenge. West European Politics 37(2) pp. 361–378.
Kriesi H. & Pappas T.S. (eds.) (2015). European populism in the shadow of the great recession. Colchester Ecpr Press.
Kriesi H. Grande E. Lachat R. Dolezal M. Bornschier S. & Frey T. (2008). West European Politics in the Age of Globalization. Cambridge Cambridge U.P.
Lanzone M.E. & Rombi S. (2014). Who did participate in the online primary elections of the five star movement (M5S) in Italy? Causes features and effects of the selection process. Partecipazione e conflitto 7(1) pp. 170–191.
McDonnell D. & Vampa D. (2016). The Italian Lega Nord in R. Heinisch and O. Mazzoleni (eds.) Understanding Populist Party Organisation. The Radical Right in Western Europe. London Palgrave Macmillan pp. 105–129.
McDonnell D. (2006). A weekend in Padania: regionalist populism and the Lega Nord. Politics 26(2) pp. 126–132.
McDonnell D. (2016). Populist leaders and coterie charisma. Political Studies 64(3) pp. 719–733.
Mény Y. & Surel Y. (2001). Democracies and the populist challenge. London Palgrave Macmillan.
Moffitt B. & Tormey S. (2014). Rethinking populism: Politics mediatisation and political style. Political Studies 62(2) pp. 381–397.
Mudde C. (2004). The populist zeitgeist. Government and Opposition 39(4) pp. 541–563.
Mudde C. & Kaltwasser C.R. (2017). Populism: A very short introduction. Oxford Oxford University Press.
Musella F. (2015). Personal leaders and party change: Italy in comparative perspective. Italian Political Science Review/Rivista Italiana di Scienza Politica 45(3) pp. 227–247.
Musella F. (2018). Political leaders beyond party politics. London Palgrave Macmillan.
Musella F. & Webb P. (2015). The revolution of personal leaders. Italian Political Science Review/Rivista Italiana di Scienza Politica 45(3) pp. 223–226.
Norris P. & Inglehart R. (2019). Cultural Backlash. Trump Brexit and authoritarian populism. Cambridge Cambridge University Press.
Pasquino G. . Italy: The Triumph of Personalist Parties. Politics & Policy 42(4) pp. 548–566.
Postill J. . Populism and social media: a global perspective. Media Culture & Society 40(5) pp. 754–765.
Sandri G. Seddone A. & Venturino F. . The Selection of Party Leaders in Italy 1989–2012 in J.B. Pilet and W.P. Cross (eds.) The Selection of Political Party Leaders in Contemporary Parliamentary Democracies. A Comparative Study. London and New York Routledge pp. 93–107.
Sandri G. Seddone A. and Bulli G. (2015). Party membership in Italy. In: E. Van haute and A. Gauja (eds.) Party Membership and Activism. London: Routledge pp. 117–133.
Stanley B. (2008). The thin ideology of populism. Journal of political ideologies 13(1) pp. 95–110.
Taggart P. (1995). New populist parties in Western Europe. West European Politics 18(1) pp. 34–51.
Taggart P. (2000). Populism. Buckingham and Philadelphia Open University Press.
Taggart P. (2004). Populism and representative politics in contemporary Europe. Journal of Political Ideologies 9(3) pp. 269–288.
Tarchi M. (2002). Populism Italian Style in Y. Mény & Y. Surel (eds.) Democracies and the populist challenge. London Palgrave Macmillan pp. 120–138.
Tarchi M. (2015). Italy: The promised land of populism?. Contemporary Italian Politics 7(3) pp. 273–285.
Vasilopoulou S. (2011). European integration and the radical right: Three patterns of opposition. Government and opposition 46(2) pp. 223–244.
Venturino F. (2007). Le primarie nazionali dell’Unione: un’analisi della partecipazione con dati aggregati. Rivista italiana di scienza politica 37(3) pp. 435–457.
Venturino F. (2015). Promoting internal democracy. An analysis of the statute of the Partito Democratico in G. Sandri & A. Seddone (eds.) The primaries game. Primary elections and the Italian Democratic Party. Novi Ligure Epoké pp. 35–50.
Venturino F. (2017). Primarie e sindaci in Italia. Politica locale e democrazia intrapartitica in Italia 2004–2015. Sant’Arcangelo di Romagna: Maggioli.
Vercesi M. (2015). Owner parties and party institutionalisation in Italy: is the Northern League exceptional?. Modern Italy 20(4) 395–410.