Nordic dog whistles. Analyzing discriminatory discourses in the parlance of the Scandinavian radical right parties

Luiza-Maria Filimon

Postdoctoral Researcher, National School of Political and Administrative Studies (SNSPA), E-mail: luiza.filimon(at)gmail.com

Abstract
The Nordic states had an active radical right presence long before the economic and refugee crises that swept the shores of the European Union (EU) left in their wake a reinvigorated right-wing contingent. The radical right parties (RRPs) have not only registered various degrees of electoral success, but have also made inroads into the political mainstream. The three defining characteristics that set these parties apart from the more traditional far-right ones are: 1) the repudiation of hardcore extremism; 2) the search for political viability; and 3) the acquisition of mainstream recognition. The present article argues that as these parties compete for legitimacy, they are forced to alter their discriminatory rhetoric by switching tonal registers. One of the political strategies that enables them to put the outright “overt” in the “covert” is the recourse to dog whistle politics. How well can they overcome the stigma associated with their more extreme reflexes depends on a case by case basis. This article examines whether the four most prominent examples of Nordic radicalism (the Danish People’s Party, Finns Party, Sweden Democrats, and Norway’s Progress Party) have integrated dog whistles in their political messaging and tracks how these coded appeals change from one country to another. In analyzing the response to the 2015 refugee crisis, the study finds that to a certain extent, the rhetoric utilized falls into the coded register or at the very least purposefully attempts to veer away from the radical excesses which are marginalizing and self-exclusionary.
Rezumat
În statele nordice, partidele radicale de dreapta aveau o prezenţă activă cu mult înainte ca ţărmurile Uniunii Europene (UE) să fie atinse de criza economică sau de cea a refugiaţilor – crize care au lăsat în urma lor un contingent revigorat al reacţionarilor de dreapta. Astfel în ultimii ani am putut obseva cum partidele radicale de dreapta nu numai că au înregistrat o serie de succese electorale, dar aceste succese au fost dublate în anumite cazuri şi de incursiuni în mainstream-ul politic. Cele trei caracteristici definitorii care deosebesc aceste partide de cele tradiţionale de extremă dreapta sunt: 1) respingerea extremismului dur; 2) căutarea viabilității politice; şi 3) obținerea recunoașterii publice din partea unor partide de la centrul spectrului politic. Prezentul articol pleacă de la premisa că pe măsură ce aceste partide concurează pentru legitimitate și sunt nevoite să-şi modifice retorica discriminatorie prin schimbarea registrelor tonale. Recursul la dog whistles (ro.: fluier pentru câini) reprezintă o modalitate care le permite să mascheze excesele discriminatorii. Dacă aceste partide pot depăşi stigmatul asociat cu reflexele lor mai extreme depinde de la caz la caz. Acest articol examinează dacă cele patru partide radicale de dreapta din Peninsula Scandinavă (Partidul Popular Danez, Adevăraţii Finlandezi, Democraţii Suedezi şi Partidul Progresului din Norvegia) au integrat aceste dog whistle-uri în mesajele lor politice, urmărind totodată modul în care aceste apeluri codate se schimbă de la o ţară la alta. Analizând răspunsul la criza refugiaților din 2015, s-a putut observa că aceste partide operează cu un registru codat sau că încearcă să evite excesele retorice radicale care produc efecte alienante și marginalizante.
Keywords: radical right parties, Nordic radicalism, racism, dog whistle politics, stereotypes, refugee crisis
CC BY-SA License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)
An earlier version of this paper has been presented at the Tenth Annual International Conference on Nordic and Baltic Studies “Dissent Versus Conformism in the Nordic, Baltic and Black Sea Areas”, hosted by the Romanian Association for Baltic and Nordic Studies and the “Ovidius” University, Constanta, Romania, June 6-8, 2019.
This paper was financially supported by the Human Capital Operational Program 2014-2020, co-financed by the European Social Fund, under the project POCU/380/6/13/124708 no. 37141/23.05.2019, with the title “Researcher-Entrepreneur on the Labour Market in the Fields of Intelligent Specialization (CERT-ANTREP)”, coordinated by the National University of Political Studies and Public Administration.

Full text in pdf: https://balticnordic.hypotheses.org/files/2020/11/04.-Filimon.pdf

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