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Pytlas, Bartek (2016): From 'Rejecting European Integration' to 'Defending True Europe'? The Re-Framing of the Populist Politics of Euroscepticism in Poland and Germany. ECPR General Conference. Panel The Populist Politics of Euroscepticism amidst Critical Junctures, Prag, 7. - 10. September 2016.

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The end of the “permissive consensus” on European integration brought about the increased visibility of populist Eurosceptic parties in the midst of European party systems. At the same time, the multiple EU-related crises resulted in the growing politicization of European issues in the mainstream discourses of several EU member states and contributed to re-emerging discussions about a general crisis of the idea of European integration or European solidarity as such. The main premise of the following analysis is that these developments opened new political and discursive opportunity structures for the political agency of populist actors in mainstream politics. The renewed strategy of Eurosceptic parties and movements in this regard is to take advantage of the growing politicization of European integration and to re-define the mainstream debate on EU-related issues. This became increasingly visible in the most recent case of the political contestation surrounding EU policies on the humanitarian refugee crisis. Against this backdrop, this paper seeks to analyze how populist Eurosceptic actors adjusted their Eurosceptic supply under the contextual conditions of EU-related debates on immigration and the refugee crisis. The main argument of the paper is that these actors re-framed their Eurosceptic supply in order to present it as part of the mainstream political discourse. This “mainstreaming” populist frame of Euroscepticism does not put in question the idea of European integration or “European values” (a simple rejection of European integration), but instead re-defines these concepts, changing their legitimizing interpretation along exclusionary, nativist lines (in particular, arguing to defend what these actors perceive as “true Europe”). In order to trace the changing legitimization patterns of Eurosceptic populist supply, the paper looks at the cases of PiS in Poland, as well as the AfD and the Pegida Movement in Germany. The comparison of these actors does not only allow to test the argument against different idea-typical cases, but also to contrast the developments between Central and Eastern, as well as Western Europe. To identify the narrative shifts within Eurosceptic rhetoric, the analysis will map the supply of Eurosceptic populist actors articulated in quality press and social media using grounded-theory based coding. The material shall than be evaluated using systematic computer-assisted qualitative frame analysis techniques. The paper therefore contributes to the understanding of the changing character of political agency of Eurosceptic politics and its narrative impact on mainstream politics amidst the recent EU-crises.

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