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Genealogy of a Populist Uprising. Italy, 1979-2019


After the 2018 general election, Italy became the only Western European country governed exclusively by anti-establishment forces. The importance of this goes beyond domestic implications, not only because what happens to the south of the Alps is relevant to the future of the European Union, but also because, with Italy often having been a bellwether for global trends, more general lessons can be drawn from its history. The Italian populist uprising can best be understood by looking at how the malfunctioning of the Italian public sphere, the anti-political zeitgeist, and the country’s struggle to squeeze itself into the European monetary straitjacket have interacted with each other over the last forty years. Two junctures are critical: the political and institutional earthquake of 1992-94, and the sovereign debt crisis of 2011 and its aftermath.
Keywords: populism, anti-politics, migrations, eurozone, Italian politics