Franco Zappettini Marzia Maccaferri


This paper analyses the digital communication of Italian parties Lega and Movimento 5 Stelle during their campaigns for the European Parliament elections (January-May 2019). We focus on the Italian case as it is representative of a generalised shift in European public discourse towards an overt delegitimation of the European project and its re-imagination. In the Italian case, Lega and Movimento 5 Stelle, which were in a Government coalition for fourteen months, have been instrumental in Italy’s shift from a strong Europhile country to one of the most Eurosceptic. However, while Lega has definitely aligned itself with a strong right-wing populist agenda, Movimento 5 Stelle has promoted a populist technocratic vision of democracy. Our analysis shows that the articulation of Eurosceptic discourses from both parties by and large reflects the two stances above with Lega’s messages (primarily produced by its leader Matteo Salvini) characterised by a ‘hyperled’ style of communication and stronger nativist elements (for example the appeal to an ethno-centric and ‘sovereign’ idea of Italy) than those of Movimento 5 Stelle, which instead relied on a ‘horizontal’ communicative style. However, our data also shows that the delegitimation of Europe in both parties occur along a similar domestication of European affairs into the national political agenda and the call for a reformed Europe along nationalistic logics which both parties claimed to champion.


Article Keywords

Euroscepticism, Populism, Technocracy, Italy, European elections, Political communication

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