Italy

As a result of the last elections in 2018, Italy was governed for one year by the two main populist players of the Italian political landscape, namely the League and the 5 Star Movement. An innovative form of governance was inaugurated, based on a “government contract” between the two parties, under the presidency of an allegedly “neutral” president, Giuseppe Conte, who declared to act as a “lawyer” of the Italian people. Since then, new coalitions have been formed, including 5 Stars and the center-left Democratic Party (PD), first, and the ongoing national unity government under the presidency of the former Central European Bank president, Mario Draghi, after. At the same time, the Covid-19 pandemic hit the world, resulting in increasing socioeconomic inequalities (including gender) and providing a fertile ground for conspiracist interpretations and/or skepticism concerning the vaccination campaign and the actual existence of a harmful virus. This subproject will therefore study Italian populist parties’ reliance on conspiracy theories. In which moment populist leaders appeal to conspiracy, and why? Are conspiracy theories only
deployed in electoral times, and then abandoned once they are in power, or do they keep on playing an important role also as an instrument of governance? Do they ensure governmentality or, on the contrary, are they a source of social tensions? In which structure of power relations do conspiracy theories take hold, also taking into account the specific role of the Church in Italian politics and its commitment, for instance, “pro refugees” and against the so-called “gender ideology”? These are some of the questions that guide this subproject. Based on ethnographic fieldwork before and after the forthcoming Italian elections, and analyses of a wide range of media sources including Facebook, Twitter, and blogs, this project will adopt a multidisciplinary approach including insights from social anthropology, political science, and media studies.