Left-wing regionalist populism in the ‘Celtic’ peripheries: Plaid Cymru and the Scottish National Party’s anti-austerity challenge against the British elites

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Series Details Volume 16, Number 6, Pages 937-953
Publication Date November 2018
ISSN 1472-4790 (print) | 1740-388X (online)
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The article shows how the main regionalist parties in Scotland and Wales - the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru - have engaged with a populist discourse in the wake of the Great Recession.

Based on a qualitative analysis of party manifestos and party-elite interviews, the article shows that the two parties have adopted a left-wing populist discourse, based on a critique of austerity policies. In this way, albeit from distinctively regionalist perspective, they performed roles very similar to that of other contemporary left-wing populist parties, particularly in Southern Europe.

The Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru were able to frame their anti-austerity stances within a populist discourse because all three traditional British parties shared a preference for pro-austerity economic policies. Therefore, in Laclau’s terms, the two ‘Celtic’ parties’ attack on austerity constituted an open challenge to the hegemonic discourse of the British ‘power bloc’.

Analogous to the expansion of a right-wing anti-establishment protest in British politics (monopolized by the UKIP), the two parties (particularly the Scottish one) capitalized on the expansion of a left-wing populist area. This strategy has lately become less viable because Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party broke with the pro-austerity consensus among British elites.

This article is part of a special issue: Addressing the territorial dimensions in party-based populism

Source Link https://link.springer.com/article/10.1057/s41295-018-0136-z
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