In 2003, the occupation of a state-owned building in Rome led to the emergence of a new extreme-right youth movement: CasaPound Italia (CPI). Its members described themselves as 'Fascists of the Third Millennium', and were unabashed about their admiration for Benito Mussolini. Over the next 15 years, they would take to the street, contest national elections, open over a hundred centres across Italy, and capture the attention of the Italian public. While CPI can count only on a few thousands votes, it enjoys disproportionate attention in public debates from the media. So what exactly is CasaPound? How can we explain the high profile achieved by such a nostalgic group with no electoral support?
In this book, Caterina Froio, Pietro Castelli Gattinara, Giorgia Bulli and Matteo Albanese explore CasaPound Italia and its particular political strategy combining the organization and style of both political parties and social movements and bringing together extreme-right ideas and pop-culture symbols. They contend that this strategy of hybridization allowed a fringe organization like CasaPound to consolidate its position within the Italian far-right milieu, but also, crucially, to make extreme-right ideas routine in public debates. The authors illustrate this argument drawing on unique empirical material gathered during five years of research, including several months of overt observation at concerts and events, face-to-face interviews, and the qualitative and quantitative analysis of online and offline campaigns.
By describing how hybridization grants extremist groups the leeway to expand their reach and penetrate mainstream political debates, this book is core reading for anyone concerned about the nature and growth of far-right politics in contemporary democracies. Providing a fresh insight as to how contemporary extreme-right groups organize to capture public attention, this study will also be of interest to students, scholars and activists interested in the complex relationship between party competition and street protest more generally.
Table of Contents
1. CasaPound italia: Hybridization in the contemporary extreme right 2. History and context of CasaPound italia 3. Ideology 4. Internal structure 5. Collective identity 6. External mobilization 7. Political communication 8. Conclusions
Caterina Froio is Assistant Professor in Political Science at Sciences Po (Centre for European Studies and Comparative Politics), and research associate at the C-Rex (University of Oslo, Norway). Her research and teaching interests are in political parties and their transformations as agents of representative government and as organizations, the relations between extremism and democracy, and e-politics. Since 2016, she is joint convenor of the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR) Standing Group on Extremism and Democracy. Her research has appeared in peer-review journals in various languages including Party Politics, Perspectives on Politics and the Revue Française de Science Politique and in several edited volumes, policy reports and media outlets.
Pietro Castelli Gattinara is Assistant Professor at the Centre for Research on Extremism, University of Oslo, Norway, and research associate at the Centre on Social Movement Studies, Scuola Normale Superiore, Florence, Italy. His research focuses on comparative politics, the far right and migration in Western Europe. He is currently leading a comparative research project on collective action against migration during the refugee crisis. He recently published The Politics of Migration in Italy (Routledge, 2016). His work related to public debate on the Charlie Hebdo attacks appeared on international peer-reviewed journals including South European Societies and Politics and the British Journal of Politics and International Relations.
Giorgia Bulli is Senior Research Fellow in Political Science at the University of Florence, Italy, where she teaches Political Communication, and Discourse Analysis. Her main research interests include the transformation of political parties and political movements in Europe in an organizational, political, cultural and communication strategy perspective. She has conducted extensive research in Germany, where she has held seminars on political communication and radical right parties and movements at the Humboldt University, Berlin.
Matteo Albanese is a post-doctoral fellow in contemporary history at the University of Padua, Italy. He works on transnational relationships between far-right organizations in Europe. His last book, Transnational Fascism (Bloomsbury, 2016) has been awarded the ERICS prize by ICS and has been welcomed by the academic community as a cutting-edge text in the field of fascist studies. He has also published several articles in different top journals.
"Right-wing extremism is taking new and often surprising forms across the globe. CasaPound Italia is a brilliant exposition of how extremists can penetrate into the practices of daily life. A must-read for scholars, activists, and all those concerned about the spread of far-right ideas into contemporary politics." — Kathleen Blee, University of Pittsburgh, USA
"While scholars of contentious politics have mainly focused on progressive social movements, this in-depth analysis brilliantly applies the main concepts and hypotheses developed in that field of studies to the mobilization and communication of the extreme right in Italy. Based on very rich empirical material, the research points at how the adoption of a hybridization strategy allowed the ideas of Casa Pound Italia into the political mainstream." — Donatella Della Porta, Scuola Normale Superiore, Italy
"How does a relatively small far right group, with little electoral support, attract international media attention and influence national politics? This book does not only provide the first systematic analysis of a prime example of such a group, CasaPound Italia, it also introduces a theoretical framework that can help us understand disproportionate successes of other (far right) groups." — Cas Mudde, University of Georgia
"Based on a historical and ethnographic approach, this book captures the essence of Casa Pound Italia: hybridization. Unique mix of party politics and street protest, ideology and pop culture, left-progressiveness and nativism, CPI makes fascism entertaining and attractive, way beyond the traditional extreme right circles. A must-read." — Nonna Mayer, Sciences Po, CEE, CNRS, France