Much attention has been devoted to how right-wing populists in Europe challenge the consensus on the benefits of European integration, but left-wing resistance to the EU is less discussed. Existing analyses tend to distinguish between three constructions of political community: a postnational EU, the populist right invoking national sovereignty, and the populist left invoking popular sovereignty. However, empirical analyses struggle to find consensus on how left populists relate to the EU, and if they invoke claims to national or popular sovereignty. This article argues that this empirical impasse stems from that populism and Euroscepticism are performative categories and not simply analytical tools, and serve to produce exclusion. There are two dichotomies in this exclusionary frame: emotional populists/rational EU, and the postnational EU/nationalist populists. Through an analysis of Podemos in Spain and the UK Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn, I show how the lines between the postnational EU, the national sovereign, and the popular sovereign are frailer than previously thought. The article concludes that these categories are less analytically astute than they are politically motivated, and analyses of the populist left in Europe must consider the performative dimension of its key terms.
Populism, Euroscepticism, Nationalism, Emotions, Podermos, UK Labour Party
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