Populism and securitization of migration in Europe

Author: Elisa Scandian

Scandian, Elisa, 2022 Populism and securitization of migration in Europe, Flinders University, College of Business, Government and Law

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Migration has been part of human history for a long time. People have been migrating for many different reasons, voluntarily or forced, temporarily or permanently, to have a better future or to reunite with family. Countries receiving immigrants have often been influenced by arrivals of people coming from different countries, with different culture, language, history and religion. At different times in history countries started introducing regulations on migrants that either included and integrated migrants with the society, or kept them separated from the society and sometimes out of the country.

Politicians around the world have introduced migration in their political agenda, sometimes framing migrants as a security threat. Some populist leaders have constructed migration as a threat to national identity and economy, creating a feeling of insecurity and fear among the citizens. By positioning themselves on the side of the “pure people” against the “elite”, their aims have also been to protect their people from external threats, which also helped them achieve electoral victories.

The aim of this research is that of understanding how populist leaders in Italy and Hungary have securitized migration allowing them to achieve political victories and the possible threat that the securitization of migration may represent for democratic. After looking at the different schools of thought on populism, and different perspectives on securitization of migration, the research will take into account two case studies: Italy and Hungary. For both countries there will be an analysis of the history of migration and of the migration policies, with a focus on more recent developments that occurred with the advent of populist leaders.

The findings of this research have showed how the securitization of migration helped both Matteo Salvini in Italy and Viktor Orbán in Hungary to achieve political success. Even though in Hungary securitizing migration has negatively influenced the democratic institutions, worsening the quality of democracy, the same cannot be said for Italy where despite migrants not always having the same rights as citizens, there are very little signs of democratic erosion.

Keywords: securitization, migration, democracy, Europe, Italy, Hungary

Subject: International Relations thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2022
School: College of Business, Government and Law
Supervisor: Luis da Vinha