University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Populism, Right-wing Politics and Sport in Europe

Molnar, Gyozo ORCID: and Whigham, S. (2019) Populism, Right-wing Politics and Sport in Europe. In: 13th Annual Conference of the PSA Sport & Politics Specialist Group: Sport and the Politics of Identity, 29 March 2019, University of Aston. (Unpublished)

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In light of the contemporary growth of ‘populist’ political parties and movements in a number of highly-developed democratic states in Europe and North America, there has been a resurgence in academic interest around the various causes for the groundswell of support for political populism (Judis, 2016; Moffitt and Tormey, 2014; Mudde and Kaltwasser, 2012). The growth of ‘left-wing’ and ‘right-wing’ populist parties has increased in Spain, Greece, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Hungary, amongst others (Mols and Jetten, 2016; Wodak, 2015; Wodak, KhosraviNik and Mral, 2013; Yilmaz, 2012).
Given this broader political context, this paper explores the interconnection between sport and populist politics in Europe, with a particular emphasis on the exploitation of sport by ‘right-wing’ populist political parties and actors. The paper outlines a number of recent high-profile examples wherein ‘right-wing’ political causes have used the popularity of sport to further their political agendas, whether through 1) the harnessing of sporting successes, 2) the use of investment in sport for political capital, or 3) the alignment with sporting fan cultures to appeal to electorates.
In particular, this paper will elaborate on the above points by critically discussing Victor Orbán’s, Hungary’s Prime Minister, exploitation of football, and sport more broadly, analysing the ways in which the Hungarian government have attempted to reinvent a strong nation and national identity through sport and related political populism. These attempts have been influenced by the interaction between forces of Westernisation and the country’s continuing post-communist transition. This analysis is informed by the notion of ‘transitology’ as a framework for analysis of the key political and economic transitions which influence the interconnection between sport and political populism in the Hungarian context.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)
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Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: sport, populist political parties, sport, Europe
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: College of Business, Psychology and Sport > School of Sport and Exercise Science
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Depositing User: Győző Molnár
Date Deposited: 05 Apr 2019 15:21
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2020 17:28

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