Framing “The Gypsy Problem”: Populist Electoral Use of Romaphobia in Italy (2014–2019)

Laura Cervi *, Santiago Tejedor Calvo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Xenophobic arguments have long been at the center of the political discourse of the Lega party in Italy, nonetheless Matteo Salvini, the new leader, capitalizing on diffused Romaphobia, placed Roma people at the center of his political discourse, institutionalizing the “Camp visit” as an electoral event. Through the analysis of eight consecutive electoral campaigns, in a six year period, mixing computer-based quantitative and qualitative content analysis and framing analysis, this study aims to display how Roma communities are portrayed in Matteo Salvini’s discourse. The study describes how “Gypsies” are framed as a threat to society and how the proposed solution—a bulldozer to raze all of the camps to the ground—is presented as the only option. The paper concludes that representing Roma as an “enemy” that “lives among us”, proves to be the ideal tool to strengthen the “us versus them” tension, characteristic of populist discourse.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105
Number of pages17
JournalSocial Sciences
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jun 2020


  • populism
  • Romaphobia
  • far right parties
  • political discourse


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