In recent years, political polarization saw a significant rise in many political systems. This revamped a scientific debate sparked decades ago, with different schools of thought debating on dynamics, factors, and causes of polarization itself. By looking at political elites’ polarizing strategy—one of the factors on which various theories seem to converge—this article tackles the question concerning the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of political communication. More specifically, we look at the case of a highly polarizing leader in Italy—Matteo Salvini, leader of Lega—in two campaigns held in 2020 before and after the first wave of the pandemic. By analyzing his messages on Facebook and Twitter, we build on the literature on the causes of affective polarization to study Salvini's use of partisan identity and divisive issues, also considering other crucial elements, such as the attacks against others, and followers’ engagement. The results highlight some changes between the two phases, but also a strong continuity in the polarizing strategy of Salvini's political communication.

Did COVID-19 change the political communication of polarizing leaders? The case of Salvini's campaigning before and after the pandemic

Marchetti R.;
2022-01-01

Abstract

In recent years, political polarization saw a significant rise in many political systems. This revamped a scientific debate sparked decades ago, with different schools of thought debating on dynamics, factors, and causes of polarization itself. By looking at political elites’ polarizing strategy—one of the factors on which various theories seem to converge—this article tackles the question concerning the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of political communication. More specifically, we look at the case of a highly polarizing leader in Italy—Matteo Salvini, leader of Lega—in two campaigns held in 2020 before and after the first wave of the pandemic. By analyzing his messages on Facebook and Twitter, we build on the literature on the causes of affective polarization to study Salvini's use of partisan identity and divisive issues, also considering other crucial elements, such as the attacks against others, and followers’ engagement. The results highlight some changes between the two phases, but also a strong continuity in the polarizing strategy of Salvini's political communication.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11391/1538642
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