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Felipe G. Santos, Dorit Geva: Populist Strategy in the European Parliament: How the Anti-gender Movement Sabotaged Deliberation About Sexual Health and Reproductive Rights

“The mobilization against the Estrela Report was unique inasmuch as it destroyed a carefully crafted cross-group consensus in favor of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) and women’s rights in the European Parliament. For the first time in over a decade, the pro-SRHR coalition lost the vote on a report,” our Research Affiliate Dorit Geva, and Felipe G. Santos (City, University of London) write in their article in the European Journal of Cultural and Political Sociology. 

To identify the tactics deployed by anti-gender groups in this situation and decipher their impact, the researchers collected information through different sources and then triangulated it. In the process, they analyzed public information generated by ultraconservative groups, interviewed key stakeholders involved in the negotiations of the report, and reviewed documents (internal policy and advocacy) that some informants provided about the ultraconservative groups. 

According to the authors, the strategy that caused the downfall of the Estrela consisted of (1) destroying the possibility of deliberation by (2) polarizing the debate through false claims and exaggerations, and (3) using procedural maneuvers to prevent debates about the report. As a result, “antagonist politics polarized centrists, and mobilized politicians otherwise disengaged with the topic, while thin proceduralism became a convenient and apparently rational solution to end a seemingly emotional and unresolvable debate”. 

Read the full article here

Cover photo: Flickr / European Parliament (CC BY 2.0)
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