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By Marianna Griffini

Nativism is an ideology that maintains that only the native group (corresponding to the nation) can inhabit the nation state. As a consequence, nativism is highly exclusionary as it posits that non-natives endanger the homogeneity of the nation state.

Mudde declared that ‘nativism’ had been the fixture of 2017. Still in 2019, Mudde argued that nativism is a mainstay of the ideology of the populist radical right (PRR), along with other ideological elements, such as authoritarianism (the call for a strong state) and populism (the belief in the opposition between the pure people and the corrupt elites). Nativism is not on the wane even at the time of writing.

It is important to trace a neat demarcation line between nativism and populism: not all populists are nativist. Furthermore, Brown and Mondon point to the risk of conflating nativism with populism and using populism in an exculpatory way to mask the harsher nuances inherent to nativism.

Conceptual clarity needs to be achieved also regarding the fine boundary between nativism and nationalism: the former is an expression of ethno-cultural nationalism, which holds that the belonging to the nation is ascribed by fixed traits, such as ethnicity, culture, language and religion. As Mudde clarifies, nativism can be defined as a combination of nationalism and xenophobia, which is hostility towards the non-natives.

In Italy, the PRR is markedly nativist, as well as populist and authoritarian. Regarding nativism, the Lega and Fratelli d’Italia (the Italian PRR parties) show a clear anti-immigration stance, evident in their denunciation of immigrant arrivals as well as the contrast they emphasize between Italians locked into their homes during the Covid-19 pandemic and immigrants apparently free to disembark onto Italian shores and freely roam on Italian territory. In Portugal, Chega, identified as a PRR party, despite its recent ascent, has engaged in nativist discourse, evident in attacks on minorities.

Despite the merits of the use of the concept of nativism applied to PRR parties, a limitation of this is that nativism has been mainly deployed in the English language, but has no equivalent in other major languages.

Related References

Albertazzi, D., Bonansinga, D. & Zulianello, M. 2021, ‘The rightwing alliance at the time of the Covid-19 pandemic: all change?’, Contemporary Italian Politics.
Brown, K., Mondon, A., 2020, ‘Populism, the media, and the mainstreaming of the far right: The Guardian’s coverage of populism as a case study’, Politics, pp. 1-17.
De Cleen, B. 2017, ‘Populism and nationalism’, in C. Rovira Kaltwasser, P. Taggart, P. Ostiguy, & P. Ochoa Espejo (eds), Handbook of populism, Oxford, Oxford University Press.
Griffini, M. 2019, ‘The Italian Far Right at the Crossroads of Populism and Nationalism’, in S. Talani & M. Rosina (eds), Tidal Waves? The Political Economy of Populism and Migration in Europe, Peter Lang.
Mendes, M. 2021, ‘The rise of Chega and the end of Portuguese exceptionalism’, LSE Blog.
Mudde, C. 2007, Populist Radical Right Parties in Europe, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
Mudde, C. 2017, ‘Why nativism, not populism, should be declared word of the year’, The Guardian, 7 December 2017. Available at:
Mudde, C. 2019, ‘Nativism is driving the far-right surge in Europe – and it is here to stay’, The Guardian, 12 November 2019. Available at:
Schwörer, J. 2021, ‘Less Populist in Power? Online Communication of Populist Parties in Coalition Governments’, Government and Opposition, pp. 1–23.
Taggart, P., & Pirro, A. 2021, ‘European populism before the pandemic: ideology, Euroscepticism, electoral performance, and government participation of 63 parties in 30 countries’, Italian Political Science Review/Rivista Italiana di Scienza Politica.

Cite this entry as:

Griffini, Marianna. 2022. ’Nativism’. In Populisms and Emotions Glossary, edited by Cristiano Gianolla and Maíra Magalhães Lopes. Available atário