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Exclusionary Populism and Islamophobia: A Comparative Analysis of Italy and Spain Author: Laura Cervi

Author: Laura Cervi

Affiliation: Department of Journalism and Communication Sciences, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Bellaterra, Spain 

Organization/Publisher: Religions

Date/Place: October 10, 2020/Basel, Switzerland 

Type of Literature: Article

Word Count: 5069


Keywords: Far-right, Lega, Vox, Islamophobia, Populism.


Identifying ‘Islamophobia’ as a new word for old fear, the author draws a well-defined classification of Islamophobia: ‘Banal Islamophobia’, which is based on historical ethnocentric prejudice against Muslims and is embedded in orientalism; and ‘Ontological Islamophobia’, which declares Muslims and Islam as an eternal threat to Western democracy and values. Both categories complement the right-wing Populist Party’s electoral strategy and provide a base to gain competitive advantages by mobilizing those who have antagonistic feelings towards Islam. The Lega Nord (Northern League) political party in Italy clenches a reputation centered on anti-immigration, hate speech, and anti-Muslim discourse. This nationalist party under the new leadership of Matteo Salvini became the focal point with the slogan of ‘stop immigration and defend Italy from invasion’ in the 2018 election. Lega achieved historical success in the 2018 elections; whereas the hate barometer of Amnesty International determined that 53% of Lega’s electoral campaign contained hate speech. Vox (Voice), which is one of the far-right populist parties of Spain, is famous to express a nativist ideology based on the populist Manichean perspective of “us” and “them”. The party is deeply antagonistic to anything considered foreign and threatening to national cohesion, explicitly immigration, especially Muslim immigration. This ‘exclusionary populism’ led to its success in the general elections of April 28, 2019, as Vox entered the Congress of Deputies for the first time, winning 52 seats.

By: Maryam Khan, CIGA Research Associate



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