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Pandemic, Demagoguery, and Right-Wing Authoritarianism, Vol. 30 - 2023, No. 1

Guest Edited by Robert L. Ivie

The Appeal of Far Right Pandemic Politics: A Southern Europe Case

, pages: 67-81

The literature associates the pandemic with populist far right parties' growth, creating the conditions for democracy weakening. The pandemic must be seen, thus, as more than a natural or medical-scientific issue given its political impact. In that sense, the pandemic politics, that is, the way governments managed the COVID-19 crisis, can be seen as a kind of “bare-life-politics,” characterised by preserving life for life’s sake. This means that governments, given the urgency of the threat, were less concerned with proposing fairer forms of economy or better modes of living. In this vein, an important political and media hegemonic topic took over discourse: “life vs. economy.” This false dichotomy suggested that the economic means were unimportant for life, given that a bare life does not need much to survive. Meanwhile, far-right politics claimed that mere survival is not enough as a political promise because an economy must promise to life. Far-right politics, given the exceptional pandemic context, appeared opportunistically and paradoxically as infusing more transformative promises for political life than the political parties responsible for managing the pandemic. These far right-wing movements show that politics cannot survive if reduced to a biological business of keeping people simply alive.

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