Blurring Borders: truth-seeking in a post-truth world.Tracing the process of legitimisation of Eurabia attitudes in Dutch political discourse.
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This master thesis intends to elucidate the legitimisation process of the Eurabia conspiracy theory by political mainstream and fringe actors in Dutch political discourse. Performing a process tracing analysis of the shifting political discourse in the 2006-2017 period, different party manifestos, speeches, interviews, letters and political statements of mainstream VVD- leader Rutte and fringe PVV-leader Wilders are analysed. Anti-migrant and anti-Islam attitudes have been growing since the 2000s, partly due to Islamic terrorism and political assassinations. Especially populist politician Geert Wilders has instrumentalised a growing feeling of fear and discomfort with non-natives, politicising and reshaping societal debates on these issues, reinforcing the sociocultural cleavage. Mark Rutte, in turn, increasingly responded to this electoral threat with an ideological reorientation, a negative frame on migration and Islam. In the end, even his rhetoric made a pessimist turn. It is demonstrated that the legitimisation of the premisses to this conspiracy theory in the political arena was a gradual process, to be divided into four phases. Starting with a context-changing run-up phase, followed by a taboo-breaking entry phase, then an absorbent, ideological internalisation phase, concluded with a legitimisation phase of rhetorical accommodation by the mainstream. Most importantly, the power of mainstream actors in crediting, confirming and redefining societal debates with re-adjusted ideas and statements is exemplified. The introduction of (previously) stigmatised knowledge is a two-sided process, magnified by political crises, induced by fringe political actors, but legitimised by the mainstream.