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VIII Congreso Internacional de la AE-IC, Barcelona 2022

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Populism in Portugal and Spain: how the Iberian extreme right constructs the hate narrative against the media on Twitter

This presentation investigates to what extent hate speech against the media is used by the populist right-wing parties in Portugal (Chega) and Spain (Vox) on Twitter. Using content analysis of the two political parties and their leaders' activity on Twitter and mapping users' responses, we test how populist political discourse on social media is being used to shape and disseminate the hate narrative against journalists in the Iberian Peninsula. The rise of populism is the major threat to contemporary democracy (Kriesi & Papas, 2015, Backlund & Junger, 2019). Portugal and Spain share similar political and civic cultures, and these explore interplays between populist messages and popular beliefs and values rooted in the history of both countries, regarding groups traditionally targeted as hostile, such as members of the gypsy community, immigrants, refugees, political opponents, LGBT’ activists and other traditional scapegoats informing populist discourse. Since the 2019 legislative election, the discussion in Portugal moved from the question “Why no populism?” (Carreira da Silva & Salgado, 2014) to fear of a dizzying rise in populism, led by the party Chega. In Spain, the 2019 legislative elections consolidated Vox as the third political force. We use the MAXQDA program to perform a content analysis of the tweets in the four mentioned accounts and identify common patterns of “othering other” (Lazaridis et all, 2016; de Vreese et all, 2018) as a strategy to delimit their own identities while excluding others. In this sense, following de Vreese et all (2018), the communicative tools used for spreading populist ideas are just as central as the populist ideas themselves. The results show a clear presence of anti-media rhetoric in the case of Vox and growing evidence in the case of the Portuguese populist leader, André Ventura. With populist political cultures becoming intensively aggressive towards traditional media, we propose that journalists need to address this trend as an actual threat to democracy. To be able to perform their duties as effective watchdogs and remain safe, journalists need more legal safeguards and a specific professional literacy on how to handle hostile political leaders.

Carla Baptista

Ruben Ramos
Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha


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