The Politics of Emotion: Class, Gender and Race within the European Radical Right
Free University of Brussels (VUB), Belgium
How can the mobilization of emotions explain support for Radical Right Parties (RRPs)? And how are these emotions connected to the identities of radical right voters? This paper critically discusses the role of emotions in the scholarly debate on European RRPs. It concludes that the political science and sociology literature often refer to emotions linked to voters´ identities as drivers for RRP voting. While emotions are essential for all politics, the reference to the role of emotions is particularly frequent in this debate. Despite even defining Radical Right politics through emotion terminology such as “politics of resentment”, “losers of globalization”, “angry white men” etc., what emotions are and what they do is left untheorized. It is further argued, that Affect Theory can contribute to our understanding of the role of emotions for Radical Right support. In combination with Intersectionality, Affect Theory can help us understand how these emotions shape voters´ identities as well as their interconnectedness with the shaping of their perceived political interests. Not only, are these theories rarely applied to this scholarly debate, but it also makes a theoretical contribution to the understanding of the support for Radical Right politics. Moreover, they do not only contribute to our understanding of the motivations of predominant voting groups such as white men of lower middle class backgrounds. It also sheds light on the motivations of unexpected voting groups such as women and minorities who seemingly have little to gain from Radical Right politics.
“Revenge” as the product of “tactics of emotions”: Turkey’s failed coup and the experience of the masses
Istanbul Sehir University, Turkey
Turkey experienced a “failed coup d’état” on July 15, 2016. The regime, under the rule of President Erdogan’s AKP (Justice and Development Party), took drastic “revolutionary-totalitarian” measures against the “betrayal of internal and external enemies” in the aftermath of the coup attempt. While these measures, are surely worth investigating, this paper deals with the direct involvement of a huge segment (at least 50 percent) of the Turkish society against the coup d’état, the physical resistance of thousands of people against the military tanks, and the eventual capture of these masses by the discourses used by the government.
The frame of my paper will be the emotional formation of the attachment of the masses – mainly composed by the members, sympathisers and voters of the AKP and to some extent by those of the MHP (Nationalist Movement Party) – to the AKP/state discourses. Using a theoretical framework that combines Gaston Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space and Michel de Certeau’s The Practice of Everyday Life, I will try to follow the path of the “reverberations” and “tactics” of emotions, giving way to (or provided by) the radical emotion of “revenge” of the popular masses, against the so-called “arrogance” of the previous secular-Kemalist state politics. Relatively, I will try to show that these emotions of revenge are today consolidated and objectified in the personality of President Erdogan, incarnating the state, and consequently giving to the masses the ultimate force and the resulting satisfaction of being recognised at the state level; and the indisputable attachment to the nationalistic rhetoric of “friend or foe”.
‘All responsible Finns, however, want to stop living on debt’: Generating emotions among citizens in the Finnish politics of austerity
1University of Lapland, Finland; 2Stockholm University, Sweden
Finland has been considered as one of the Nordic welfare states with extensive social rights of the citizens. However, after the parliamentary election in 2015, the new Prime Minister Juha Sipilä declared a radical shift in national policy. His government introduced austerity measures to improve national competitiveness by reducing the public depth with savings of four billions euros in public economy. The austerity measures were estimated to fall especially on socially vulnerable groups of citizens. The policy shift aroused negative feelings, critique, protests and strikes among the citizens. The government, for its part, tried to justify the measures by appealing to people’s feelings, for example, by describing austerity as a joint belt-tightening effort as well as by stating that we cannot have public debt at future generations’ expense. The Prime Minister even held an unexceptional television speech in which he appealed to sense of responsibility of the citizens. In the presentation we analyse how the government tried to get acceptance for austerity measures by appealing to citizens’ emotions. In the analysis, we, first, pay attention to how the measures are emotionally motivated and how citizens should and should not feel about them. Secondly, we examine whether the three government parties with different ideological backgrounds (the Centre Party, the National Coalition and the Finns Party) attribute similar or different emotions to citizens. The presentation is based on the analysis of policy documents and political speeches. In the analysis we take influences from the theories on emotion, narrative and modalities.
Shades of Anger in Political Scandals
1Freie Universität Berlin; 2Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg
Scandal is very often defined through the public moral outrage; however, the nature of this emotion in the scandal theories is barely ever really investigated. Even if some consensus al-ready exists that not the severeness of the scandalized norm violation, but its medial representation and the strength of the scandalizing discourse determines the success of the scandal (Ehmig 2015; Kepplinger & Hartung 1993; Kepplinger 2012; cf. Thompson 2000: 16), emotional reactions of the scandal are still perceived as automatic and spontaneous. If we, though, precisely look at the discursive articulation of emotions, their much more complex nature is revealed.
First, moral outrage is not the primary emotional reaction of the public, it is a result of emotio- discursive work. Second, emotio-discursive work towards moral outrage could be and often is contested by other possible emotional interpretations of events. Third, emotio-discursive work is a dynamic process with emotions articulated in it changing when the scandal progresses.
My analyzes of two German political scandals reconstruct the “career” of excitement and surprise to anger or disappointment depending on the acceptance of the responsibility attribution to the scandalized politician. Moralizing scandalization and embedding of this blame attribution into the normative discourses construct moral outrage, whereas questioning of moral reasons and good motives behind the scandalization contests its moral status and “degrades” to envy and resentment. In the longer run, when the more stable basis of emotions is needed, norm violation stops to be a one-time failure and is anchored in the personality of politician, scandalization turns into denunciation and starts to spread contempt and hate instead of anger.