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Pytlas, Bartek (2017): Anti-Establishment Discourse and Mainstreaming Political Agency. A Comparative Framework of Populist Strategies of Representation. 11th ECPR General Conference. Panel The Effects of Populism, 6. - 9. September 2017, Oslo.
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In recent years, anti-establishment parties (AEPs) across Europe have not only grown in strength, but also increasingly diversified their ideological supply. Next to mainstreaming radical left and right-wing parties, European party systems saw a rise of “centrist” populists such as M5S in Italy or Kukiz’15 in Poland. At the same time, political challengers across the ideological spectrum increasingly enhance their “classical” anti-establishment narratives of contestation with prognostic visions that call for a specific re-design of both mainstream politics and representative democracy. These developments suggest that there is a need for more comparative research on the representational relationship between anti-establishment discourse and issue supply of right, left, but also centrist challengers. What do AEPs actually mean when they demand a “different” or “better” democracy? How do these actors link their proffered visions of the social contract and mainstream politics to their issue supply? Which role do these framing strategies play for mainstreaming populist political agency? Against this background, the paper aims to propose a research framework that allows to map and compare the patterns, mechanisms and representational role of anti-establishment discourse within the issue-entrepreneurial populist agency. The main assumption is that AEPs align particular counter-system frames with their issue supply in order to discursively shape and legitimize the subjective public perception behind their issue supply as both distinctive and viable representational vehicle of mainstream political change. The proposed analytical framework and first empirical insights contribute to a systematic exploration and deeper understanding of anti-establishment appeal by mainstreaming populist actors and its relationship with discursive strategies of political representation in contemporary democracies.