How populist crisis rhetoric affects voters in Switzerland

  • Dominique Stefanie Wirz University of Fribourg, DCM Department of Communication and Media Research
  • Martin Wettstein University of Zurich, IKMZ Department of Communication and Media Research http://orcid.org/0000-0001-9039-6093
  • Anne Schulz University of Oxford, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0456-6661
  • Nicole Ernst University of Zurich, IKMZ Department of Communication and Media Research
  • Christian Schemer Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, Department of Communication
  • Werner Wirth University of Zurich, IKMZ Department of Communication and Media Research
Keywords: Populism, crisis, anti-immigrant, linkage analysis, media effects

Abstract

Right-wing populism has a long tradition in Switzerland. Nevertheless, only little is known about how populist messages in the media contribute to the success of the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) and to the acceptance of the party’s anti-immigration policies. In this study, we combine data from a large media content analysis (including newspapers and TV news shows) with data from a panel-survey in order to address this research gap. Thereby we differentiate between effects driven by the content and the form of right-wing populist communication. While right-wing populist content depicts immigrants and the political elite as a threat to the Swiss people, populist style evokes the sense of a crisis by emotionalizing and dramatizing the message. Populist style is therefore assumed to increase the persuasiveness of populist claims. The results of this study suggest that this is the case only for some voters, while it backfires for others.

Published
2019-12-03
How to Cite
Wirz, D. S., Wettstein, M., Schulz, A., Ernst, N., Schemer, C., & Wirth, W. (2019). How populist crisis rhetoric affects voters in Switzerland. Studies in Communication Sciences, 19(1), 69-83. https://doi.org/10.24434/j.scoms.2019.01.006