The new rise (and fall) of populism in Romania. Dan Diaconescu People’s Party and discourse theory Răspunde

Discourse theory goes beyond simply studying historical events and focuses on the context as well, on the discourses shaping a society. A dominant discourse tries to create a chain of equivalence by linking floating signifiers with a positive value (e.g. “freedom”, “justice”, “fairness”). This chain of equivalence then opposes, takes distance from, and even demonizes other such chains enshrining contrasting ideas (e.g. “oppression”, “injustice”, “unfairness”). Some of these seemingly “empty” signifiers manage to stabilize themselves around the meanings of other signifiers, thus becoming nodal points of a certain discourse –the most important objects of that discourse.

PPDD fits the description of a populist party and, given the social, economic, and political context before and during the 2012 general elections in Romania, the party’s successful opportunism should not be surprising nor neglected. On the other hand, PPDD also proves right Chantal Mouffe and Ernesto Laclau’s hypothesis that, once getting into power, populist parties lose most of their political support. Up to this point, the party’s policies have not been harmful, but questions about the democratic deficit in Romania must be raised. Moreover, both the traditional political parties and the electorate should be more careful in the future, since PPDD proved that creating a (successful) populist party, from scratch, in Romania, is a relatively easy task. More…