Populist politics of representation and foreign policy: evidence from Poland

David Cadier*

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    This article characterizes and analyses variations in Poland’s foreign policy under the Law and Justice (PiS) government with a view to shed light on the distinctive influence of populism. I argue that this influence has mainly to do with the ‘politics of representation’, understood both in the sense of meaning production and of theatrical performance. Building on the discursive and stylistic approaches to populism as well as on the post-structuralist literature in Foreign Policy Analysis, this article conceptualizes populism as a set of representational practices in domestic politics that spill over, and affect, foreign policy. By promoting distinct representations of Self and Other in international affairs and by investing foreign policy making as a site to perform a rupture with technocratic elites, populist practices contribute to enable or constrain certain policy choices and mode of diplomatic actions. In Poland, this has translated into a securitization of the EU, a partial de-Europeanization of the national interest and a re-shuffling of partnership prioritizations, as well as in disruptive and ‘undiplomatic’ comments on the part of the PiS foreign policy executive.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)703-721
    Number of pages19
    JournalComparative European Politics
    Issue number6
    Early online date14-Sep-2021
    Publication statusPublished - Dec-2021

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