Italy, promised land of populism? From Berlusconi and Bossi to Grillo and Salvini

Forti, S. (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


Italy has become a populist laboratory. Since the end of the so-called First Republic, in the early nineties, there have been different phenomena that can be defined as populist, starting with Lega Nord by Umberto Bossi or Forza Italia by Silvio Berlusconi. In the last decade, and especially as a result of the economic crisis of 2008, there have been new phenomena (such as the Five Stars Movement of Beppe Grillo) or renewed (like the “new” Lega by Matteo Salvini). There is a wide bibliography on the subject (R. Biorcio, I. Diamanti, G. Orsina, G. Passarelli and D. Tuorto, M. Tarchi, L. Zanatta; M. Revelli, etc.) that is part of the debates on international populism in the XX and XXI centuries (M. Canovan, PA Tagiueff, JP Rioux, JW Müller, C. Mudde, etc.).
This paper explores how different expressions of populism (the Lega Nord’s ethno-regional populism, Silvio Berlusconi’s tele-populism and the web-populism displayed by the Five Stars Movement) took shape in Italy. The analysis traces back from the early 1990s, when the Tangentopoli scandal was a watershed between two distinct party systems (First vs. Second Republic) to the current context marked by the so-called “sovereigntist” alliance Lega-M5S and the supposed end of the Second Republic with the formation of the government led by Giuseppe Conte. While both continuities and differences are taken into consideration, the common long-term traits of Italian populism are here emphasized, such as hostility to intermediations as well as to checks and balances, and deterritorialization.
Period15 Apr 201918 Apr 2019
Event title12th Annual International Conference on Mediterranean Studies: null
Event typeConference
Conference number12
LocationAthens, Greece
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Italy
  • Populism
  • Nationalism
  • Extreme right