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Italy and the "New" European Right, 1945-present


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 7
  • Convenor: Joseph John Viscomi
  • Assessment: a 5000-word essay (100%)

Module description

'Populism' has become a catchphrase for a range of radical right-wing movements. Current debates on its rise in Europe often place Italy at centre stage. Indeed, Matteo Salvini, Italy’s brief Prime Minister (2018-19) has asserted his leadership amongst the European far-right parties by seeking to cultivate an alliance with Marine Le Pen in France and the Alternative for Germany party. In Italy, his coalition includes parties that draw upon populist ideals and political fascism (from Giorgia Meloni’s Fratelli d’Italia to the Casapound to Salvini’s own Lega). The 'new' populism of the right is part of a deeper history of radical politics and warrants further exploration. In this course, we will move beyond muddied understandings of populism to understand the historical emergence and socio-political dynamics of radical right-wing politics in post-1945 Europe. Italy will be the prism through which we examine these broader phenomena.

Indicative module syllabus

  • What is 'populism'?
  • Italy in the New Europe
  • Neofascism, or fascism’s continuity?
  • Political terrorism and the Cold War
  • An integrated Europe?
  • ‘The Wind from the North’: the rise of the Lega Nord
  • Politics refashioned: Berlusconi
  • The politicisation of migration
  • Alliances and shared Euroscepticism
  • The promised land of populism?

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • display a good knowledge of the major themes in modern Italian and European political history
  • situate debates about the Italian history within wider debates about the development of the historical discipline and methodological approaches.