Onwards to the new political frontier: Macron’s electoral populism

Martin Fougère, Charles Barthold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

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.
Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalOrganization
Volume27
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)419-430
Number of pages12
ISSN1350-5084
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13.03.2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed

Keywords

  • 512 Business and Management
  • empty signifiers
  • equivalential chains
  • Laclau
  • Macron
  • populism

Sustainable Development Goals

  • GOAL 08: Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • GOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions

Areas of Strength and Areas of High Potential (AoS and AoHP)

  • AoS: Responsible organising

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