Less Populist in Power Online Communication of Populist Parties in Coalition Governments

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Recently several populist parties have become part of coalition governments in multiparty democracies, specifically in Western Europe. Based on the inclusion-moderation thesis, academics assume that incumbent populist parties tone down their populist rhetoric as a result of the daily businesses of deliberation and compromises in coalitions. However, while the assumption of tamed populists in power is widespread, there is little empirical work dealing with the topic. Using a classical quantitative content analysis of 1,210 Facebook posts published by populist parties in Italy, Spain, Austria and New Zealand, this article examines whether opposition parties are more populist and nativist than those in coalition governments. The findings indicate that populists do not decrease the degree of anti-elite and people-centred messages when they are in power but rather change the type of elites they attack and the antagonist groups they juxtapose. We should therefore rethink the validity of the inclusion-moderation thesis for populist parties in coalition governments.

Original languageEnglish
JournalGovernment and Opposition
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)467-489
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 10.07.2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author, 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of Government and Opposition Limited.

    Research areas

  • government, inclusion-moderation, nativism, populism, social media
  • Politics