The elitist populism of the extreme right: A frame analysis of extreme right-wing discourses in Italy and Germany

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In this article, we investigate the presence and forms of populist frames in the discourse of the extreme right by looking at different types of extreme right organizations in Italy and Germany. Focusing on the meso, organizational level, and applying a frame analysis to written documents (for example newspapers, magazines) of certain selected extreme right organizations, chosen from the political party and non-party extreme right milieu in the two countries, the article examines the relevance and the characteristics of the populist discourse in the extreme right. Similarities and differences between types of extreme right groups and countries in the framing strategies of populism are underlined and linked to the cultural (historical) and political-discursive opportunities. The bridging of appeal to the people with other (more traditional) frames of the extreme right (for example nativism) is shown. In particular, we look at how the central populist frame (namely the people versus the elite) is linked to the extreme right definition of the ‘us’ and the ‘them’, when developing diagnoses, prognoses and motivations to action. The analysis is based on a total of around 4000 frames collected in documents from 2002 to 2006.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Political Science, Institute for Advanced Studies (IHS), Stumpergasse 56, Wien A-1060, Austria 2: Department of Political and Social Sciences, European University Institute, Badia Fiesolana, Via dei Roccettini, 9, San Domenico di Fiesole Firenze 50014, Italy. ;, Email:, URL:

Publication date: April 1, 2011

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