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Antisemitism as a political strategy and the development of democracy

The project investigates the relationship between parliamentary debate and the development of democracy in post-fascist societies. The overarching research interest focuses on how parliamentary debate is implicated in the (re)construction of national identity and the development of democratic political culture. This is exemplified in a case study of antisemitic rhetoric in the Austrian parliament (Nationalrat) after 1945, which highlights how parliamentary antisemitism has influenced notions of Austrian identity and shaped Austrian democratic culture.

Detailed Analysis of parliamentary debate has so far been neglected in Mainstream parliamentary studies as well as contemporary theories of Democracy. In particular, the role of rhetoric in the construction of democratic citizenship and national identity has been left unexplored. To Close These gaps, the study examines antisemitic rhetoric in parliament as an indicator for democratic quality and employs debate Analysis as an Instrument of formal Democracy coincided with the processing of the Nationalsocialist past. The commitment to consensual democracy and the narrative of Austria as the 'first victim' of fascist Germany became two central and intertwined elements of political common sense in the 2nd Republic. This led to a specific Amalgamation of Austrian democratic culture and antisemitic traditions.

Parliamentary debate analysis allows for investigating the relationship between parliamentary rhetoric and democratic culture by showing how antisemitism was employed as a rhetorical device to distinguish between mere citizens and ‘real Austrians’ for the purpose of deflecting guilt and rejecting demands for compensation. It thus reveals how anti-pluralistic sentiments, which had already eroded the 1st Republic, have also shaped the political culture of the 2nd Republic.

The project employs a methodological framework combining rhetoric and critical discourse analysis for examining the stenographic protocols of parliamentary sessions of the Austrian Nationalrat between 1945 and 2008. This framework integrates approaches from linguistics, parliamentary studies, and research on democracy and political culture. It is therefore sensitive to the specifics of parliamentary debates, e.g. the relationship between debate culture, rules of procedure, and wider socio-political contexts.

University of Vienna
Department of Political Science

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A-1010 Wien

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