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Politics and populism across modes and media

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Edited By Ruth Breeze and Ana María Fernández Vallejo

The relationship between politics and digital media is currently a focus of intense interest: the symbiosis between the two spheres is such that political activity is now almost inseparable from media communication. However, the implications of this development are not fully understood. Digital media are a powerful tool in the hands of mainstream parties, but also make it easier than ever before for the public to express their reactions, or for new actors to enter the political arena. This volume explores the intersection between politics and new media, which involves crucial ideals, values and aspirations, such as informed democracy, citizens’ empowerment and social debate, but also negative aspects like manipulation and polarization.

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Muhammad A. Badarneh: “You are not one of us!”: Online responses to the premier’s populist discourse in Jordan

“You are not one of us!”: Online responses to the

premier’s populist discourse in Jordan

Extract

Muhammad A. Badarneh

Populism has been a staple element in the contemporary political discourse of Arab regimes. Populist discourse has been exploited by Arab leaders, and their deputies and prime ministers, with the main goal of showing proximity to the populace and signalling identification with their goals and aspirations. Such populist discourse has been characterized by a calculated choice of words and expressions aimed at creating a rhetoric that emphasizes the ‘greatness’ of the people and justifies all policies and actions as carried out in the name of and for the sake of the people. McMillan (2016: 167) emphasizes that, in addition to “patronage”, populism has been a form of “soft power” exploited by Arab leaders, whether kings or colonels, to “back up the narratives they have developed to legitimize their authority and to bridge the gap between the rulers and ruled”.

Classical Arab populism, epitomized by Egypt’s populist leader Nasser who “saw himself as the saviour of his people and the protector of the poor” (Dorraj 2017: 296), focused on opposition to “the old oligarchy associated with colonialism” (Ayubi 1995: 197–201), strived to “appeal to many groups (medium-sized landholders, landless labourers, bureaucrats, industrial workers, students)” (Abdel-Khalek and Tignor 1982, cited in Podeh/Winckler 2004: 5), and used “fiery anti-imperialist rhetoric (especially against Israel) [that] resonated with all sections of society” (McMillan 2016: 174). This classical form of Arab populism was pan-Arab, anti-imperialist, and anti-Western, claiming to struggle against Western imperialism and capitalism (Podeh/Winckler 2004). ←237...

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