A rally on the main square of Bishkek. Photo:  Omurali Toichiev.

Mapping Global Populism — Panel XIV: Tracing the Pathways of Autocracy and Authoritarianism Across Central Asia 

Date/Time: Thursday, June 20, 2024 — 10:00-12:00 (CET)


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 Dr. David Lewis (Professor of Politics at University of Exeter).


“Autocracy’s Past and Present in Kazakhstan,” by Dr. Dinissa Duvanova (Associate Professor at Lehigh University).

“Nationalising Authoritarianism in Uzbekistan,” by Dr. Diana T. Kudaibergen(ova) (Assistant Professor at Department of Sociology, University of Cambridge and Fellow in Sociology, Homerton College).

“Autocracy in Turkmenistan and The Role of Media in Cultivating Personality Cult,” by  Oguljamal Yazliyeva (Ph.D. Researcher in International Area Studies at the Department of Russian and East European Studies of the Institute of International Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University, Prague).

“Clan Politics: Kyrgyzstan between Informal Governance and Democracy,” by Dr. Aksana Ismailbekova (Postdoctoral Researcher, Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient).


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Brief Biographies and Abstracts

Dr. David Lewis is a Professor of Politics at the University of Exeter. He teaches and conducts research on international relations and peace and conflict studies, with a focus on the politics of authoritarian states. His regional research primarily covers post-Soviet politics, particularly in Russia, Central Asia, and the Caucasus. From 2019 to 2022, he was on secondment as an ESRC-AHRC Fellow at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in London. He is also a Senior Associate Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London and was awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours List 2023.

Dr. Lewis completed his PhD in the Department of Government at the London School of Economics and subsequently worked in political risk analysis in the private sector. He also spent several years with the Brussels-based think tank, the International Crisis Group, focusing on research programs in Central Asia and South Asia (Sri Lanka). Before joining the University of Exeter in September 2013, he was a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford.

Autocracy’s Past and Present in Kazakhstan

Dr. Dinissa Duvanova is an Associate Professor in International Relations at Lehigh University. She received her Ph.D. from the Ohio State University. Her research focuses on the political economy, bureaucratic politics, interest group politics, and technology-enabled forms of political participation in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia. Her book Building Business in Post-Communist Russia, Eastern Europe and Eurasia (Cambridge UP 2013) was awarded the Hewett Prize for outstanding publication on the political economy of Russia, Eurasia and/or Eastern Europe.

Nationalising Authoritarianism in Uzbekistan

Dr. Diana T. Kudaibergenova studies different intersections of power relations through realms of political sociology dealing with concepts of state, nationalising regimes, and ideologies. Dr. Kudaibergenova received her PhD in 2015 from the Department of Sociology at the University of Cambridge. Her first book, Rewriting the Nation in Modern Kazakh Literature (Lexington, 2017) deals with the study of nationalism, modernisation, and cultural development in modern Kazakhstan. Her second book Toward Nationalizing Regimes. Conceptualizing Power and Identity in the Post-Soviet Realm focuses on the rise of nationalising regimes in post-Soviet space after 1991 with a prime focus on power struggles among the political and cultural elites in democratic and non-democratic states (Pittsburgh University Press, 2020).

Autocracy in Turkmenistan and The Role of Media in Cultivating Personality Cult

Oguljamal Yazliyeva is a Ph.D. researcher in International Area Studies at the Department of Russian and East European Studies of the Institute of International Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University. Her research interest is Central Asian Studies, focusing on Turkmenistan, Mass Media, Education Policy, Languages, and Translation. Previously, she was the director of RFE/RL’s Turkmen service, based in Prague, Czech Republic. She worked at Turkmen State University as vice dean of the Faculty of Law and International Relations, Dean of the Faculty of International Business and Management, and Chair of the Department of Foreign Languages at Turkmen State University, Turkmenistan. Yazliyeva received a Hubert Humphrey Fellowship from the US Department of State in 2002 and spent a year at Penn State University working on her research project on higher education policy in Turkmenistan. Oguljamal Yazliyeva holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in Linguistics and a Post-graduate degree (Candidate of Sciences) in Contrastive Linguistics from the Turkmen State University. Email: oguljamal.yazliyeva@fsv.cuni.cz

Abstract: Since its independence after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Turkmenistan has evidently demonstrated a high tendency toward autocracy. It established a national development model, recycling old Soviet systems of authoritarian control. On the other hand, its autocratic evolution runs deep. In this connection, it is essential to consider Turkmenistan’s historical conditions and look at the evolution of Turkmen’s political culture from “serdars” and “khans” (tribal leaders) up to presidents. This approach may be justified by the fact that the political culture of “one-man rule” in contemporary Turkmenistan takes its roots from the tribal traditions of the Turkmen people’s ancestors. In the process of consolidating autocracy, the media has a central position and plays a crucial role in building the personality cult of the state leaders. This paper assesses the development and preservation of authoritarian political culture in Turkmenistan through a close examination of building personality cults. The analysis suggests that authoritarian political powers control the media system totally and use it to bolster the glorification of the state leaders. Consequently, the historical legacy and behavioral patterns of Turkmen society contribute to the evolution of the authoritarian political culture created and developed in Turkmenistan.

Clan Politics: Kyrgyzstan between Informal Governance and Democracy

Dr. Aksana Ismailbekova is a research fellow at Leibniz-Zentrum-Moderner Orient (ZMO). Her research work focuses on kinship, ethnicity, patronage, conflict and gender in Kyrgyzstan. Dr. Ismailbekova completed her dissertation at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle, Germany. Based on her PhD dissertation, she wrote her monograph Blood Ties and the Native Son: Poetics of Patronage in Kyrgyzstan, which was published by Indiana University Press in 2017. She has also been a collaborator of the Basel Institute on Governance on two research projects: “Informal Governance and Corruption” funded by the British Academy Anti-Corruption Evidence Programme (2016-2018) and “Harnessing Informality” (2018-2020) funded by the Global Integrity Anti-Corruption Evidence Programme.

A general view of the hemicycle during of a plenary session on BREXIT vote of the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium on January 29, 2020. Photo: Alexandros Michailidis.

ECPS Panel: Where Is Europe Heading?

Date/Time: Tuesday, June 18, 2024 / 15:00-17:00 (CET)


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Irina von Wiese (ECPS Honorary President; Affiliate Professor at European Business School, the ESCP, and former MEP).


“European Democracy’s Resilience to Populism’s Threat,” by Dr. Kurt Weyland (Mike Hogg Professor in Liberal Arts at University of Texas).

“A Far-right Tipping Point? The Impact of the 2024 European Elections in France,” by Dr. Gilles Ivaldi (Senior Researcher in Politics at CEVIPOF and Professor at Sciences Po Paris).

“The Populist Rebellion of the Young,” by Dr. Albena Azmanova (Professor of Political and Social Science at University of Kent).

“EP Elections in Austria: Between ‘So What’ and the New Normal,” by Dr. Robert A. Huber (Professor of Methods at the University of Salzburg and Co-editor in Chief of Political Research Exchange).

“Beyond the Cordon Sanitaire: Normalization of Far-right and Racist Politics,” by Dr. Ulrike M. Vieten (Assistant Professor in Sociology at Queen’s University Belfast).

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Scope and Purpose

The recent European Parliament (EP) elections saw significant gains for Christian Democrats, the mainstream left, and liberal freethinkers. This suggests a parliament that will uphold and defend European peace and the liberal multilateral world order established after World War II, which is a positive development for democratic values and norms.

However, relying solely on EP seat distribution to understand the far-right threat is insufficient. The saying “What happens in Italy repeats in Europe” rings true. Far-right and populist radical right (PRR) parties, with steady support growth, emerged as the leading force in the EP elections in France, Italy, and Austria. They also secured the second-largest party position in Germany and the Netherlands. In France, the far-right party’s significant first-place finish could foreshadow a final victory in upcoming elections, depending on various factors. In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders’ anti-immigration party saw a sixfold increase in votes compared to the previous election.

Aligned with its mission of fostering European and global peace, ECPS is organizing a special panel discussion on June 18, 2024, from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM CET. The discussions will move beyond merely identifying the threat; the panel aims to explore “where the solution and hope lie.” ECPS invites you to participate in this two-hour event, featuring five expert panelists and a distinguished moderator. The panel aims to engage attendees in a thoughtful and solution-oriented discussion, contributing to a more informed and proactive approach to the challenges Europe faces today.

Russian President Vladimir Putin observed amidst soldiers during the military parade in Belgrade, Serbia on October 16, 2014. Photo by Dimitrije Ostojic.

Mapping Global Populism – Panel XIII: Resurgence of Expansionist Tsarism: Populist Autocracy in Russia

Date/Time: Thursday, May 30, 2024 — 10:00-12:00 (CET)


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Dr. Maxine David (Lecturer in European Studies at Leiden University and Foreign Policy Analyst Specializing in Russian and EU Foreign Policy).


“Why Putin Is Not a Populist, But Worse,” by Dr. Luke March (Professor, Personal Chair of Post-Soviet and Comparative Politics at the University of Edinburg).

“Katechontintic Sovereignty of Z-Populism in Putin’s Russia,” by Dr. Alexandra Yatsyk (Researcher at IRHIS-CNRS at the University of Lille and a lecturer at Sciences Po, France).

“‘Traditional Values’: Gendered and (New)Imperial Dimensions in Russia,” by Dr. Yulia Gradskova (Associate Professor, Researcher at Södertörn University, Sweden).

“The Economic Costs of Autocracy in Putin’s Russia,” by Dr. Dóra Győrffy (Professor of Economy at Institute of Economics, Corvinus University of Budapest).


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Brief Bios and Abstracts

Dr. Maxine David is a Lecturer in European Studies at Leiden University. She is a Foreign Policy analyst specializing in Russian and EU foreign policy. She has co-edited and contributed to several special issues and edited collections on EU-Russia relations. Maxine also researches and has published on Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Besides the foreign policies of these actors, Dr. David is interested in a range of foreign policy issues, including the role of values, international intervention, regionalism, and social media. Dr. David sits on the International Advisory Board of The British Journal of Politics and International Relations, serves as the Leiden Coordinator for the Europaeum 2-year Masters in European Politics and Society program, and is a member of EUREN.

Why Putin Is Not a Populist, But Worse

Dr. Luke March is Professor of Post-Soviet and Comparative Politics at the University of Edinburgh. His research interests include the politics of the European (radical) Left, Russian domestic and foreign politics, nationalism, populism, radicalism and extremism in Europe and the former Soviet Union. His books include The Communist Party in Post-Soviet Russia (2002), Radical Left Parties in Europe (2011) and Europe’s Radical Left. From Marginality to the Mainstream? (edited with Daniel Keith, 2016). His latest publication (edited, with Fabien Escalona and Daniel Keith) is The Palgrave Handbook of Radical Left Parties in Europe (2023). 

Abstract: Russian President Vladimir Putin often presents an inscrutable, Sphinx-like image. A controversial label often applied is populism – but for all who see him as a quintessential populist, as many people vehemently disagree. Looking more closely at his ‘populism’ reveals much about his politics. Putin is no populist, but rather a statist and (imperialist) nationalist, who uses ideologies (including populism) selectively. The implications of this are more troubling than if he were simply a populist.

Katechontintic Sovereignty of Z-Populism in Putin’s Russia

Dr. Alexandra Yatsyk is a researcher at IRHIS-CNRS at the University of Lille, and a lecturer at Sciences Po, France. Her expertise covers post-Soviet nation-building, populism, illiberalism, mega-events and biopolitics. She is the author of numerous articles and books, including  co-authored the Critical biopolitics of the Post-Soviet: from Population to Nation (Lexington, 2019), Lotman’s Cultural Semiotics and the Political (Rowman & Littlefield International, 2017), the co-edited Mega-Events in Post-Soviet Eurasia: Shifting Borderlines of Inclusion and Exclusion (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), New and Old Vocabularies of International Relations After the Ukraine Crisis (Routledge, 2016), and Boris Nemtsov and Russian Politics: Power and Resistance (Ibidem Verlag & Columbia University, 2018).

Abstract: In February 2024, two years after Russian full-fledged invasion of Ukraine, a number of US media alarmed – with references to the US Intelligence Service – about Russia’s possible plans on installation of a nuclear weapon in space. According to the media, in doing so, the Kremlin is pursuing to destroy the US satellites, which lend assistance to Ukrainian forces. The news seriously disquieted the US officials, who considered Kremlin’s development a violation of the 1967 Outer Space. The Treaty prohibits orbiting any nuclear weapon and its contravention will entail the catastrophic consequences for the world. Russia’s President Putin commented the news is erroneous, saying that his country neither has the nuclear weapon in space no has any plans to deploy it.

This case is an example of the nuclear debate on Russia’s sovereignty and security, that goes back to the Cold War era, and which Putin rearticulated in his speech at the Münich Security Conference in February 2007. In Putin’s words, a nuclear weapon and Orthodoxy are two shields of Russian security at home and abroad. During the following decades, the image of Russia as a world power and a hotbed of the Orthodox values, ready to defend its political and spiritual sovereignty with arm and faith, had been extensively proliferated by the state, Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) and popular culture.

This paper reveals the Putinist populist narratives on Russian messianic imperialism of “two security shields” that have been circulating in works of Russian Z-singers since Russia’s full-fledged invasion of Ukraine. I raise the question on what do the Russian Z-patriots sing on Russia’s security to the millions of Russian civilians and Putin’s combatants? What messages on external and internal threats do they send to the Russian population through their songs? How do they aestheticize and normalize the war in Ukraine? I approach the issues in terms of political theology within the IR debate on the katechontic sovereignty.

‘Traditional values’: Gendered and (New)Imperial Dimensions in Russia

Dr. Yulia Gradskova is Associate Professor in History and researcher at the Department of Gender Studies; she also works as Research Coordinator at the Center for Baltic and East European Studies, Södertörn University (Sweden). Her research interests include Soviet and post-Soviet social and gender history, decolonial perspective on Soviet politics of emancipation of “woman of the East,” maternalism and transnational history. Currently she is PI in the project “Maternity in the time of ‘traditional values’ and femonationalism” (supported by the Östersjöstiftelsen). Her last book is The Women’s International Democratic Federation, the Global South and the Cold War. Defending the Rights of Women of the ‘Whole World’? (Routledge 2021). Gradskova is the author of Soviet Politics of Emancipation of Ethnic Minority Women. Natsionalka (Springer, 2018) and co-editor of several books, including Gendering Postsocialism. Old Legacies and New Hierarchies (Routledge 2018, with Ildiko Asztalos Morell).

Abstract: While Putin’s government presents “traditional values” as a genuine value system based on social cohesion that can “save” Russia and guarantee social harmony and peace, in my presentation I will show these ideas as affecting individual rights and freedoms of several categories of citizens of the Russian Federation and used for gathering popular support for the new imperialist Russian war on Ukraine. The adopted already in 2013 law on so called “propaganda of LGBT for minors” was amended recently and from January 2024 everything that can be associated with the LGBTQ+ can lead to accusation in extremism. Using declarations about “demographic crises” in Russia Putin’s government is making efforts to further restrict abortion while gender research is practically banned from universities While sometimes the “traditional values” are presented as a set of ideas propagated first of all by the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), in practice, “traditional values” are supported and distributed by several different actors, only some of who were closely associated with the ROC. The narrowing distance between these actors happened with the open support of the state, with the aim of controlling the reproductive capacities of women’s bodies and social reproduction for strengthening Russia’s geopolitical position in the world. In my presentation I will show how the state-created and state-supported women’s organizations in Russia are also used for distributing conservative ideas and contributing to the new (imperial) patriotism and support of the militarism.

The Economic Costs of Autocracy in Putin’s Russia

Dóra Győrffy is Professor at the Institute of Economics at Corvinus University of Budapest. She holds a BA in Government from Harvard University (Class of 2001), an MA (2003) and PhD (2006) in International Relations and European Studies from the Central European University and a Doctor of Science degree in Economics (2015) from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. She is Chair of the Economics Committee of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (2021-). Her research focuses on issues of international political economy with a particular focus on the post-communist member states. She is the author of four monographs including Institutional Trust and Economic Policy (CEU Press, 2012) as well as Trust and Crisis Management in the European Union (Palgrave, 2018). She has published over 70 scholarly articles and book chapters in English and Hungarian most recently ”The Middle-Income Trap in Central and Eastern Europe in the 2010s: Institutions and divergent growth models” in Comparative European Politics (2022) and ”Neo-Backwardness and Prospects for Long-term Growth: The effects of Western sanctions on Russia and the changing embeddedness of Ukraine in the world economy” in Madlovics, B. and Magyar, B. eds.: Russia’s Imperial Endeavor and Its Geopolitcal Consequences, CEU Press (2023). 

Abstract: The presentation examines the long-term economic consequences of Western sanctions on Russia, portraying a bleak outlook for the country’s economic future. The sanctions have led to a significant decline in access to Western capital, loss of intellectual inputs, and the exit of multinational corporations and skilled individuals. This has fundamentally altered Russia’s economic trajectory, making it asymmetrically dependent on China and hindering its prospects for economic prosperity. The chapter underscores the lasting impact of the sanctions on Russia’s economic fundamentals and its trajectory towards becoming a neo-backward country.


Populism & Politics Workshop – The Interplay Between Migration and Populist Politics Across Europe Ahead of European Parliament Elections




May 22, 2024 (in person) / May 23, 2024 (virtual)

Organizing Institutions

European Center for Populism Studies (ECPS), Belgium

European Studies Centre (ESC), University of Oxford, UK  

Oxford Democracy Network, University of Oxford, UK


Dr. Othon Anastasakis (Director of the European Studies Centre, University of Oxford).

Sumeyye Kocaman (DPhil Researcher in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Oxford and Executive Editor of Populism & Politics).

George Hadjipavli (DPhil Candidate in Area Studies and Research Associate at Southeast European Studies at Oxford).


Dr. Othon Anastasakis (Director of the European Studies Centre).

Irina von Wiese (Honorary President of the ECPS).


European Studies Centre, 70 Woodstock Rd, Oxford OX2 6HR 


Populism & Politics (P&P) is a digital journal dedicated to advancing the study and understanding of populism-related phenomena and populist challenges in historical and contemporary contexts. 

Migration, with its multifaceted socio-economic and political implications on voting behavior, stands at the nexus of the factors that have fueled the demand for populism in Europe and beyond. As the 2024 European Parliamentary elections approach, comprehending the trends in voting behavior and the role of immigration-related populism necessitates an interdisciplinary approach. 

The central theme of the workshop revolves around elections and anti-immigration populism in the European context. This two-day workshop will be held in hybrid format and will bring leading scholars and researchers in the field of populism and migration to discuss the interplay between populism and migration and their socio-economic and political repercussions.  

Some of the papers that will be presented at the workshop will be looking at:

-Populism, Fast and Slow – A Dual Thinking Approach to Populist Attitudes.

-Recalibration, Not Austerity: The Interplay of Populism, Neoliberalism, and Welfare States in the Struggle for Liberal Values.

-Voting for Populist Radical Right Parties amongst Minority and Majority Groups in France, Germany and the Netherlands.

-The Moral Panic Button (MPB) and the Road to the 2022 Election in Hungary.

-Migration Challenge and Populist Responses: A Comparative Analysis of Parliamentary Elections in Hungary and Turkey.

-Diasporas Intertwined: The Role of Kin-State Minorities in the Hungarian State’s Diaspora Engagement.

-Nationalist Myths and The Emergence of Anti-Immigration Discourses.

-Gendering Conflict: A Comparative Study of How Palestinian Civilians and Arab European Refugees Are Portrayed within Europe Parliamentarian Narratives.

-Scandinavian Countries and the Rise of Extremism.

-The Victory Party at the Crossroads of Asylum Policies and Populist Discourse in Turkey.

-The Populist Origins of Migration Politics in the Federal Republic of Germany, 1973-1983.

-European Populism and Dimensions of Euroscepticism.

-Emigration and Political Party Membership in Central and Eastern Europe: Evidence from a Difference-in-Differences Design.


Editorial Team for Special Issue of Populism & Politics (P&P) on Migration

Dr. Azize Sargin (Director for External Relations, ECPS).

Dr. Jafia Naftali Camara (British Academy Research Fellow, University of Cambridge).

Dr. Ilhom Khalimzoda (Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Jyväskylä, Finland).

Hannah Geddes (PhD Candidate in Management, University of St. Andrews).  

Timor Landherr (PhD Candidate in Politics and International Relations, Queen Mary University, London). 

Iuliana Nyerges (MPhil Candidate, Politics and International Relations, Balliol College, University of Oxford).

Maria Christofidis (MPhil Candidate, Philosophy, Mansfield College, University of Oxford). 



Date/Time: May 22, 2024 / 08:30-17:00 (UK Time)

To register for in-person sessions in Oxford please email by May 14, 2024: skocaman@populismstudies.org.

Register for Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUrceCurDovH9w3vFc7saBUSHBggbs7zDe4


Opening Remarks

08:45-09:00 (UK Time)

Dr. Othon Anastasakis (Director of the European Studies Centre).

Irina von Wiese (Honorary President of the ECPS).


Panel 1 – Supply and Demand Sides of Populism: Political Psychology, Neoliberalism and Xenophobia

Date/Time: May 22, 2024 / 09:00-10:45 (UK Time)

Venue: European Studies Centre, 70 Woodstock Rd, Oxford OX2 6HR


Irina von Wiese (Honorary President of the ECPS). 


Dr. William L. Allen (British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Politics and International Relations, and Nuffield College, University of Oxford). 


“Populism, Fast and Slow – A Dual Thinking Approach to Populist Attitudes,” by Dr. Filipa Figueira (Lecturer at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies at University College London) & George Hajipavli (DPhil Candidate in Area Studies and Research Associate at Southeast European Studies at Oxford).

“Recalibration, Not Austerity: The Interplay of Populism, Neoliberalism, and Welfare States in the Struggle for Liberal Values,” by Jellen Olivares-Jirsell (PhD Candidate in Politics at Kingston University).

In-group Love Explains Voting for Populist Radical Right Parties amongst Minority and Majority Groups in France, Germany and the Netherlands,by Dr. Sanne van Oosten (Postdoctoral Researcher, Equal Strength, COMPAS, University of Oxford).


Panel 2: Hungary: A Case Study for Migration, Elections and Diaspora

Date/Time: May 22, 2024 / 11:00-13:00 (UK Time)

Venue: European Studies Centre, 70 Woodstock Rd, Oxford OX2 6HR

Register: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUrceCurDovH9w3vFc7saBUSHBggbs7zDe4


Dr. Othon Anastasakis (Director, European Studies Centre, Oxford University).


Dr. Márton Gerő (Assistant Professor of Sociology at the Faculty of Social Sciences of Eötvös Loránd University).


“You Don’t Even Have to Press It Anymore” – The Moral Panic Button (MPB) and the Road to the 2022 Election in Hungary,” by Dr. Márton Gerő (Assistant Professor of Sociology at the Faculty of Social Sciences of Eötvös Loránd University) & Dr.Endre Sik (Research Professor at the Institute of Sociology – Centre for Social Sciences of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences Centre of Excellence).

“Migration Challenge and Populist Responses. A Comparative Analysis of Parliamentary Elections in Hungary and Turkey,” by Dr. Tamas Dudlak (Researcher at the Contemporary Arab World Center, ELTE Eötvös Loránd University).

“Diasporas Intertwined: The Role of Kin-State Minorities in the Hungarian State’s Diaspora Engagement,” by Judit Molnar (DPhil Candidate in Anthropology at the University of Oxford).


Panel 3 – Anti-Migrant Perceptions and Populist Reactions Across Europe

Date/Time: May 22, 2024 / 14:30-16:30 (UK Time)

Venue: European Studies Centre, 70 Woodstock Rd, Oxford OX2 6HR

Register: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUrceCurDovH9w3vFc7saBUSHBggbs7zDe4


Rob McNeill (Deputy Director of Migration Observatory, Compas Researcher, University of Oxford).


Jafia Naftali Camara (British Academy Research Fellow, University of Cambridge).  

Hannah Geddes (PhD Candidate in Management, University of St. Andrews).  


“Nationalist Myths and The Emergence of Anti-Immigration Discourses,” by Luca Venga (Post-graduate Student at St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford).

“Scandinavian Countries and the Rise of Extremism,” by Priscilla Otero Guerra (Postgraduate Student at the University of Oxford).

“Gendering Conflict: A Comparative Study of How Palestinian Civilians and Arab European Refugees Are Portrayed within Europe Parliamentarian Narratives,” by Arunima Cheruvathoor (MPhil in Global and Area Studies at the University of Oxford).

“Digital Engagement and Political Voices: A Comparative Analysis of Skilled Immigrant Women in Ottawa and Stockholm,” by Ayshan Mammadzada (PMP, PhD Candidate at uOttawa).


Concluding Remarks 

Time: 16:30-17:00 (UK Time)

Venue: European Studies Centre, 70 Woodstock Rd, Oxford OX2 6HR

Register: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUrceCurDovH9w3vFc7saBUSHBggbs7zDe4

Dr. Othon Anastasakis (Director of the European Studies Centre, University of Oxford).

Rob McNeill (Deputy Director of Migration Observatory, Compas Researcher, University of Oxford).



Panel 4 – Intersection of Populist Politics, Far Right and Asylum Policies

Date/Time: May 23, 2024 / 09:00-11:00 (UK Time)

Venue: European Center for Populism Studies (Virtual)

Register: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUrceCurDovH9w3vFc7saBUSHBggbs7zDe4


Dr. Ilkhom Khalimzoda (Postdoctoral Researcher at the Department of Language and Communication Studies, University of Jyväskylä, Finland).

Dr. Sanne van Oosten (Postdoctoral Researcher, EqualStrength, COMPAS, University of Oxford).


Dr. Simon Watmough (Postdoctoral researcher at the University of Leipzig in Germany and a non-resident research fellow at ECPS).

Dr. Tamas Dudlak (Researcher at the Contemporary Arab World Center, ELTE Eötvös Loránd University).

Hannah Geddes (PhD Candidate in Management, University of St. Andrews).


“The Victory Party at the Crossroads of Asylum Policies and Populist Discourse in Turkey,”  by Dr. Ezgi Irgil (Postdoctoral Research Fellow within the Global Politics and Security Programme at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs – UI) & Dr. Zeynep Sahin Mencutek (Senior Researcher at Bonn International Centre for Conflict Studies).

“Populist Politics Kills Asylum Policies: How Populist Discourses About Migration in Bulgaria Invent the ‘Refugee Crisis’,” by Dr. Ildiko Otova (Assistant Professor in International Migration at New Bulgarian University) & Dr. Evelina Staykova (Associate professor in Political Science at New Bulgarian University).

“‘The More Refugees, the More Votes’: The Role of Migration on the AfD Growth,” by Dr. Avdi Smajljaj (Assistant Professor and lecturer at the Department of Political Sciences and International Relations, Epoka University, Tirana, Albania).

“Between Gastfreundschaft and Überfremdung: The Populist Origins of Migration Politics in the Federal Republic of Germany, 1973-1983,” by Simon Ahrens (MPhil in Development Studies, University of Oxford).


Panel 5 – The Influence of Populist Anti-Immigration Narratives on European Self 

Date/Time: May 23, 2024 / 12:30-14:30 (UK Time)

Venue: European Center for Populism Studies (Virtual)

Register: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUrceCurDovH9w3vFc7saBUSHBggbs7zDe4


Dr. Avdi Smajljaj (Assistant Professor and lecturer at the Department of Political Sciences and International Relations, Epoka University, Tirana, Albania).

Dr. Marieke van Houte (Assistant Professor for Anthropology and Development Studies, Radboud University).


“Refugees and the Eurosceptics: Understanding the Shifts in the Political Landscape of Europe,” by Dr. Amrita Purkayastha (Assistant Professor at Bangalore, India).

“Populist Discourse and European Identity: A Poststructuralist Analysis,” by Nazmul Hasan (PhD Candidate in the Department of Philosophy and Comparative Religion, Visva-Bharati University, Santiniketan, West Bengal, India).

“Nationalism and Anti-Immigration Sentimentalism in Europe,” by Sulagna Pal (PhD Research Scholar, Department of Philosophy, University of Delhi, India).

“A Critique of Eurocentric Conceptualisations of Social Cohesion in Academia, Refugee Policy, and Refugee Settings,” by Basma Doukhi (PhD Candidate in Migration Studies at the University of Kent).


Panel 6 – Diverse Aspects of Anti-Migrant Populism in Europe

Date/Time: May 23, 2024 / 15:00-17:00 (UK Time)

Venue: European Center for Populism Studies (Virtual)

Register: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUrceCurDovH9w3vFc7saBUSHBggbs7zDe4


Dr. Tamirace Fakhoury (Associate Professor of International Politics and Conflict, Fletcher School, Tufts University).

Dr. Zeynep Sahin-Mencutek (Senior Researcher at Bonn International Centre for Conflict Studies).


Dr. Jafia Naftali Camara (British Academy Research Fellow, University of Cambridge).

Dr. Azize Sargin (Director for External Relations, ECPS).


“Enemies Inside: European Populism and Dimensions of Euroscepticism,” by Dr. Ana Paula Tostes (Senior Fellow at the Brazilian Center of International Relations and Professor at the State University of Rio de Janeiro).

“Emigration and Political Party Membership in Central and Eastern Europe: Evidence from a Difference-in-Differences Design,” by Melle Scholten (PhD Candidate at the University of Virginia).

“Digital Engagement and Political Voices: A Comparative Analysis of Skilled Immigrant Women in Ottawa and Stockholm,” by Ayshan Mammadzada (PMP, PhD Candidate at uOttawa).

“The Role of Populism in Redefining Citizenship and Social Inclusion for Migrants in Europe,” by Dr. Edouard Epiphane Yogo (Lecturer-Researcher in Political Science at the University of Yaoundé, Cameroon).


Concluding Remarks & Thanks

Time: 17:00-17:30 (UK Time)

Dr. Azize Sargin (Director for External Relations, ECPS). 

Sumeyye Kocaman (DPhil Researcher in Asian and Middle East Studies and Executive Editor of Populism & Politics).


Abstracts and Brief Biographies


Panel 1

Supply and Demand Sides of Populism: Political Psychology, Neoliberalism, and Social Media


Populism, Fast and Slow – A Dual Thinking Approach to Populist Attitudes

Filipa Figueira (The School of Slavonic and East European Studies at University College London).

George Hajipavli (Southeast European Studies at Oxford).

This article applies the concept of dual thinking to understand the psychological mechanisms driving demand for populism. Dual thinking theories posit that human thinking can take two forms: Type 1 – fast, intuitive, and emotional, and Type 2 – slow, considered, and elaborate. Through a behavioral experiment, we examine whether, when prompted to adopt Type 1 thinking, respondents display greater attraction to populism than when prompted to adopt Type 2 thinking. 

Following Reinhard’s typology, we test four types of populism that adhere to the minimalist definition of populism as ‘the people’ versus ‘the others.’ These are populism as a reaction to a) the psychological inability to adapt to rapid change (‘the people versus the transnational elite driving globalization’); b) the perceived overreach of the ‘administrative’ state and the corrupt and arrogant elite (e.g., the out-of-touch elite ‘Remainers’); c) an experience or fear of decline (e.g., Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’), and d) a threat to their identity through immigration (‘the people versus the immigrants’). This approach further enables us to test for correlation between the various populist groups as posited in theory. This is of additional utility given the topic of the workshop, as it will enable us to gauge both whether psychological mechanisms are applicable to migration-driven populism, and whether migration-driven populism is a unique phenomenon or forms part of a broader cluster of populist dynamics. In our experiments, we control for alternative explanations to populist party support, such as cross-national cultural differentials, factors pertinent to migration (perceptions of and exposure to migratory flows), personality types, the role of ideology, trust in political institutions, standard socio-economic and demographic controls, and the ‘need for chaos’ variable. 

By considering the link between intuitive thinking and attraction to populism, our findings carry significant implications for our understanding of the psychological processes behind the phenomenon of populism. Overall, this novel approach will significantly inform our understanding of the mechanism behind migration-driven populism, and how it relates to broader anti-establishment and populist attitudes. Consequently, gaining a better understanding of the psychological processes behind the phenomenon will enable us to counter migration-driven populism through carefully tailored approaches with the help of mass and social media ahead of a critical election year.

Filipa Figueira is a Lecturer at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES) at University College London (UCL). Her main areas of expertise are the European Union and public policy. She is particularly interested in bounded rationality and the effectiveness of EU policymaking, EU governance and the allocation of policy competencies between the EU and the national level, and populism/Brexit. Her interdisciplinary research aims to offer novel combinations of political and economic theoretical frameworks. She is also a Senior Adjunct Researcher at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), within the Brussels School of Governance (BSoG), and a Senior Member of the SSEES-based Centre for New Economic Transitions (CNET). She has contributed to many high-impact journals, such as European Review, British Politics, the Journal of European Public Policy, and the European Journal of Government and Economics.

George Hajipavli is a Research Associate at Southeast European Studies at Oxford (SEESOX) based in St Antony’s College, Oxford. George’s research interests primarily lie in area studies and political sociology. He has recently written on public opinion, such as the electoral attitudes underpinning the paradoxical relationship between the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and the Russian Orthodox Church, and the determinants of Orthodox Church support in contemporary Russia, with a particular emphasis on the aspect of communist legacies and the secularization thesis. He has presented at conferences, such as the annual conferences of the University Association for Contemporary European Studies (UACES), the World Association of Public Opinion Research (WAPOR), and the British Association of Slavonic and East European Studies (BASEES). His interest in the present topic derives from his curiosity about the psychological determinants of public opinion and his doctoral research on the impact of religious identities on political outcomes. George enjoys complementing his academic research with his prior experiences in policymaking, which included stints in the European Parliament, and the Cypriot House of Representatives.


Recalibration, not Austerity: The Interplay of Populism, Neoliberalism, and Welfare States in the Struggle for Liberal Values

Jellen Olivares-Jirsell (Kingston University).    

This paper challenges the idea that the effectiveness of welfare states should be measured solely based on their universality of provision. The author argues that focusing on universality conceals issues with the workings of welfare states. The paper also suggests that welfare states are undergoing recalibration, not retrenchment and that abandoning the aim for universality is essential to protect those who need it the most. Overall, the paper highlights the importance of welfare states in protecting vulnerable populations and argues for a more nuanced approach to measuring their effectiveness.

Keywords: Populism, recalibration, welfare states, workfare, austerity, producerism.

Jellen Olivares-Jirsell is a doctoral candidate in Politics at Kingston University, UK. Before joining Swansea University (Wales) as a Research Assistant, she was engaged in research projects at the Technical University of Munich (Germany) and Malmo University (Sweden). Scholarly contributions include publications in Global Affairs and Populism journals. Her research interests encompass politics, norms, and ideologies, focusing on populism, neoliberalism, welfare states, trust, liberalism, and polarization.


In-group Love Explains Voting for Populist Radical Right Parties amongst Minority and Majority Groups in France, Germany and the Netherlands

Dr. Sanne van Oosten (Postdoctoral Researcher, EqualStrength, COMPAS, University of Oxford).

Populist Radical Right Parties’ (PRRP) politicians and supporters often claim ethnic minorities vote for their parties, possibly in an effort to legitimize their parties’ policy positions. In mainland Europe, where gathering quantitative data on ethnic minorities poses challenges, it is very difficult to disprove such statements. Do ethnic minorities and majorities tend to vote for PRRP and what dimensions of ethnocentrism explain their (lack of) support? I surveyed voters in France, Germany and the Netherlands and ask them about their propensity to vote for Rassemblement National (RN) in France, Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) in Germany, and Partij voor de Vrijheid (PVV) in the Netherlands. Thanks to a novel oversampling method, I can compare ethnic minority and majority groups. The findings clearly state that ethnic minority voters are very unlikely to vote for PRRP, with the exception of Dutch Hindustani Surinamese voters and German voters with a migration background in the Former Soviet Union. Besides these two exceptions, the French Maghrebi, French Black and French Turkish, German Turkish, Dutch Turkish, Dutch Moroccan and Dutch non-Hindustani Surinamese voters are very unlikely to vote for PRRP. Ethnic majorities are much more likely to vote for PRRP. I find in-group love explains their support to a much larger extent than out-group hate. Though immigration attitudes predict PRRP voting in all three countries, in-group love explanations explain PRRP voting much more. In France, PRRP voting is driven the most by a preference for putting French interests first. In Germany, it is a preference for not mixing with other groups. In the Netherlands, it is the feeling of not being accepted as belonging in the Netherlands that predicts voting the most. These indicators of in-group love explain PRRP voting amongst majority groups much more than immigration attitudes, attitudes towards Islam, gender equality, LGB rights, green policies, or economic redistribution. Feeling close or distant towards ethnic in- or out-groups does not predict PRRP voting in any of the cases. These findings contribute to our understanding of PRRP voting in Europe.

Dr. Sanne van Oosten is a political scientist interested in the impact of anti-Muslim racism in politics and society. She is an expert on anti-Muslim narratives and policies in post-9/11 societal debates, the political representation of Muslim politicians in European parliaments, the electoral implications of anti-Muslim discrimination, and voter discrimination against Muslim politicians. Dr. van Ossten is completing her PhD in political science at the University of Amsterdam, where she taught and researched the role of Muslims in politics. Her current research focuses on discrimination against minorities by employers, landlords, and childcare facilitators and the resultant impact on the well-being and identification of these minorities. This research is part of the Horizon 2020 project EqualStrength. Her work has been published in journals such as Legislative Studies, Electoral Studies, and Acta Politica. https://www.compas.ox.ac.uk/people/sanne-van-oosten


Panel 2

Hungary: A Case Study for Migration, Elections, and Diaspora


‘You Don’t Even Have to Press It Anymore’ – The Moral Panic Button (MPB) and the Road to the 2022 Election in Hungary

Márton Gerő (Assistant Professor of Sociology at the Faculty of Social Sciences of Eötvös Loránd University).

Endre Sik (Research Professor at the Institute of Sociology – Centre for Social Sciences of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences Centre of Excellence).

In this paper, we aim to show how the moral panic button contributed to the incumbent party, Orbán Viktor’s Fidesz, a landslide electoral victory in Hungary in 2022. The moral panic button is a concept based on Stanley Cohen’s idea of ‘moral panic.’ However, instead of a single event, the moral panic button is viewed as a governance technology typical of populist and autocratzing governments. The moral panic button aims to increase the cohesion of the voter base, applying a mode of political communication based on threats and enemy images. In Hungary, the moral panic button was triggered by portraying immigration and immigrants as an existential threat to the ‘Hungarian Nation’ following the Charlie Hebdo attack in January 2015. Since then, it has served as a central issue for the propaganda machine of Fidesz. 

This paper will show how the Fidesz electoral bloc was “made.” We use the data from four population surveys conducted between 2017 and 2021 to demonstrate how the Fidesz propaganda machine secured the number of voters needed to win the 2022 elections almost independently of the current campaign themes and messages. A central theme in our surveys is the portrayal of terrorism and immigration as an existential threat and immigrants as enemies, along with other threats and enemies (as George Soros, the European Union’s Bureaucrats, or the opposition). In this analysis, we use binomial regression analysis to examine how strongly agreement or disagreement with the variables associated with framing the moral panic button affects the likelihood of belonging to the Fidesz, or oppositional constituency. 

The analysis will show the importance of the moral panic button as the leading tool for creating and maintaining the Fidesz bloc, leading to the increasing polarization of society. First, the constant maintenance of moral panic helps to develop and ‘maintain’ a constituency based on loyalty and identification with the leader. Second, the Fidesz world is created amorphous in terms of social background but homogeneous in terms of political behavior, whose members primarily – if not exclusively – enforce the aspects of belonging to the camp in their political identity and behavior. 

Endre Sik is a Research Professor at the Institute of Sociology – Centre for Social Sciences (TK) of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences Centre of Excellence (MTA), and professor emeritus at Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest. He has a Ph.D. (1985) and a Doctor of Sciences (2006) in Sociology from the MTA. He was also Deputy Chair of the Committee of Sociology at MTA and President of the Hungarian Sociological Association. He has lectured at the University of Toronto, Notre Dame University, the Central European University in Prague, and the Global Camps of Human Rights in Venice. He is a member of IMISCOE’s Maria Baganha Committee. He is the head of research of several projects funded by TK and the Hungarian Scientific Research Fund. He has participated in EU-funded projects such as CEASEVAL, STYLE, Concordia Discourse, Euborderegions, and Workcare Synergy. His interests include migration, xenophobia, border studies, network and content analysis, and economic sociology.

Márton Gerő is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Sociology, Centre for Social Sciences (TK) of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences Centre of Excellence (MTA). He is also an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the Faculty of Social Sciences of Eötvös Loránd University. His main research interests include civil society, social movements, and political integration processes. He has published in the Journal of Civil Society, Central and East European Politics and Society and Czech Political Science Review. Currently, he is developing a postdoctoral project on ‘Civil Society, enemy images and redistribution: The interplay between structural factors and political action in the process of de-democratization (NKFIH – 132768) and serves as a principal investigator of the project titled ‘(De-) democratization and the trajectories of civil society’ at TK. 


Migration Challenge and Populist Responses. A Comparative Analysis of Parliamentary Elections in Hungary and Turkey

Tamas Dudlak (The Contemporary Arab World Center, ELTE Eötvös Loránd University).

Over the last decade, there has been a growing interest in issues related to illiberal governance systems, primarily referring to Hungary and Turkey. Beyond superficial comparisons, however, the similarities of the trajectories and policies followed by the lengthy political career of Viktor Orbán and Recep Tayyip Erdogan and their respective political systems generally have not gained much academic attention. Similarly, investigations are missing from the literature to understand the relationship between the Hungarian and Turkish migration policy. To fill this gap, this research assesses the circumstances and motivations that shaped the Fidesz and the AKP governments’ policies and discourse on immigration during the last electoral campaigns (in 2022 and 2023, respectively). 

While Hungary and Turkey are relatively distant countries, their cases are comparable as they constitute stable populist regimes in the periphery of the European Union and have intensive and direct contact with significant migration and trafficking routes. They are situated next to unstable regions (such as the Balkans and Ukraine in the case of Hungary and Iraq, Syria, Iran, and Afghanistan in the case of Turkey) and accept refugees in large numbers.

Although populism can be defined as a political practice, a discursive strategy, or an ideology in ‘mainstream’ research, it is primarily associated with a country’s domestic politics. Populism’s connection to migration policy is still undertheorized in social sciences. Exceptionally rare is research that examines how populism can be connected to the political and discursive practices of different Middle Eastern actors. Despite a growing literature on populism, illiberalism, and authoritarian tendencies in the ‘Western periphery,’ there is a lack of context-sensitive analysis of how Erdogan and Orbán use migration discourse to seek alternative identity formations in their political pursuit of the Syrian and Ukrainian refugee crises. This circumstance prompts the researcher to utilize a new, migration-specific reading of the existing primary and secondary sources.

Generally, or theoretically, this paper seeks the reference points (the narrative background) of the two governments in migration-related issues. In this respect, I am particularly interested in the governmental framing of securitization, sovereignty, humanitarianism, and bordering. The goal of this article is to understand how migration policies have been formulated in Hungary and Turkey during the last parliamentary elections, what are the current circumstances that shape the outcome of governmental decisions (political practice), and discourses (political theory) on how to deal with the mass movement of peoples in these countries.

The underlying narratives are examined by discourse and content analysis. For this purpose, I focus on the official statements and speeches of the two leaders. The analysis seeks to understand the logic of cooperation and similarities between illiberal populist regimes. All in all, explaining the differences and similarities might shed light on the workings of these populist systems and theorize how illiberal populist governments design their migration policies and how their ideological background (internal constraints) and Europeanization (external constraints) limit or extend their political maneuverability.

Tamas Dudlak is a Doctor of International Relations based in Budapest, Hungary and affiliated with the ELTE Eötvös Loránd University of Budapest as a researcher in the Contemporary Arab World Center. He previously received degrees in History, Arabic, and Turkish and studied geopolitics. His main research interest lies in the Middle East; he analyses contemporary Turkish politics from a comparative perspective. He focuses on the similarities and differences betweenTurkey and Hungary in various fields, such as migration policies, the characteristics of the populist regimes, electoral strategies of the incumbents and the oppositions, and the role of religion and civilizational discourse as the underlying ideologies of the Hungarian and Turkish governments.


Diasporas Intertwined: The Role of Kin-State Minorities in the Hungarian State’s Diaspora Engagement

Judit Molnar (The University of Oxford).

“Fidesz received 94% of the votes of Hungarians living outside the borders,” reported the InfoStart online portal after the 2022 elections in Hungary. The statistics might come as highly surprising, looking at the character of recent emigration from the country. As a response to the autocratic and populist government, which growingly infringes on the principles of democracy, migrants have been documented to increasingly ‘vote with their feet’ (Somin, 2011; Meardi, 2012; Triandafyllidou & Gropas, 2014), with politically motivated emigration slowly and steadily replacing the economic emigration of Hungarians first triggered by the 2008 economic crisis. Hallmarked by events like the expulsion of forward-thinking educational institutions like the Central European University, the aggressive campaign to push women into traditional childbearing roles, and the severe limitations placed on the LGBTQ+ community, many people have opted for a more liberal atmosphere when deciding to start a new life outside the country.

Therefore, it is important to understand who these voters are. According to Brubaker (1996), there are two types of diasporas: those that emerge by people crossing boundaries and those that are formed by boundaries crossing people. When the treaty of Trianon detached two thirds of Hungary’s territory in 1921, many ethnically Hungarian people found themselves outside the borders overnight. According to Waterbury (2010), the loss was especially acute as some of the lost territories were perceived as the cradle of Hungarian civilization and their inhabitants the carriers of the most authentic form of Hungarian culture. Trianon has stayed framed as a national trauma by Hungarian politics and motivated by an ethnic approach to the nation, since 1989, a plethora of schemes have been set up to tie the Hungarian population of these territories to Hungary. The experience of being removed from Hungary despite a strong consciousness as Hungarians made this group keen to embrace the state’s call and to support the Fidesz’s nationalist agenda. 

In Fidesz’s discourse, kin-state minorities are the exemplary communities of national consciousness and the kind of ideal citizens that all emigrants should aspire to become. While historically, emigrants’ treatment by the Hungarian state went from “fascist criminals, class enemies, and useless, work-shy rabble” (Kunz 1985:102) in 50s and 60s to traitors who placed their well-being above that of the homeland after 1989 (Herner-Kovács, 2014), kin-state minorities have stayed framed as loyal victim communities. Therefore, ever since diaspora outreach schemes aimed at emigrants were first devised by Hungarian state in 2010 in the hope of reconnecting them to the homeland to tap them for brain gain, remittance and political lobby potential, kin-state minorities have been involved as key players. For example, 60-70% of the facilitators sent to diasporas through the Kőrösi programme, the flagship scheme of diaspora engagement, have been from pre-Trianon territories of Hungary. Their role is to reconnect emigrant communities to Hungary by organizing emigrants around a shared Hungarian culture and language and boosting the preservation of traditions even though some have never lived in Hungary.

In my paper, I would like to explore how these two remarkably different experiences of ethnic identity and connectedness to the homeland are bridged by Hungarian populist discourse in the country’s attempt to govern its diasporas across borders and reconstruct the long-lost historic nation. Furthermore, relying on the framework of state-led transnationalism, I set out to investigate how such narratives impact the dynamics of the Hungarian emigrant diaspora and, ultimately, whether trying to fit the emigrant population into the kin-state minority mold can be productive to align emigrant citizens with Fidesz’s ideology. To answer these questions, I will rely on the ethnographic data from my recently completed one-year fieldwork in London, the United Kingdom, and reflections on similar research projects in Ireland and Argentina. 

Judit Molnar is a DPhil candidate of Anthropology at the University of Oxford, with an interest in migration, diasporas, transnationalism, and the anthropology of the state. Her doctoral research investigates the correlations between home-state ideologies and the cultivation of diaspora subjectivity through ethnographic case studies of Hungarian and Venezuelan migrant communities in London. Prior to coming to Oxford, Molnar worked for the Hungarian State Secretary for Nation Policy as a cultural facilitator delegate to the Hungarian diaspora in Argentina and completed a traineeship at the Cabinet of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport of the European Commission. She holds an MLitt in Cultural Studies from the University of St Andrews and an MA in Anthropology from the University of Vienna.


Panel 3

Anti-Migrant Perceptions and Populist Reactions Across Europe


Nationalist Myths and The Emergence of Anti-Immigration Discourses

Luca Venga (St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford).

The fall of the Berlin Wall lulled a majority of Europeans into thinking they had consigned nationalism and war to the dustbin of history. The ascent of the EU seemed to have ushered in an era of rational, peaceful dialogue based on universal values and on tolerance for differences. Nationalism, tainted by the World Wars, had been discredited as a serious political philosophy, becoming little more than a fringe view or a touristic attraction.

But autocratic tensions, Brexit, and the return of war on the continent have demonstrated that nationalism is more alive than ever, and it is already reshaping our societies and our institutions. Nationalist narratives, above all else, have caused a discernible shift in attitudes towards migrants, contributing to the rise of anti-immigration sentiment across the continent and stoking the fires of xenophobia and racism. 

This paper critically examines the dynamic interplay between the creation and reinterpretation of nationalist myths and the emergence of anti-immigration discourses within the European context. By analyzing the construction of invented histories, contemporary retellings and ahistorical myths, this study elucidates the processes through which these discourses have shaped public perceptions and policy responses toward immigration.

Drawing on a comprehensive review of historical and contemporary literature, this paper underscores how ambitious and unscrupulous politicians have utilized certain actors (think tanks, political parties, media organizations) to deliberately construct and revise nationalist myths. This re-writing of history has allowed them to present themselves as scions of holy dynasties, saviors of the fatherlands, or redeemers and avengers. 

In their quest to gain the favor of public opinion by reasserting a sense of collective identity and cultural superiority predicated on the exclusion of ‘The Other,’ however, these political figures have caused old and new cleavages to spread across societal divides, contributing to a climate of polarization and intolerance.

Through the selective commemoration of historical events, figures, and symbols, nationalist narratives have fostered a sense of cultural exceptionalism and entitlement, positioning the foreign as a threat to the national fabric. This narrative framing has, most evidently, caused a reduction of the options available when confronting the question of immigration, as certain courses of action have become politically radioactive.

My essay will then delve deeply into the multifaceted ways in which the reinterpretation of nationalist myths has been instrumental in shaping the rhetoric of exclusion and securitization within public discourse and policy-making processes. The selective deployment of historical narratives to construct narratives of victimhood, cultural purity, and national resurgence has facilitated the normalization of anti-immigration rhetoric but needs to be understood in the context of economic uncertainty, cultural anxieties, and the impacts of globalization. Thus, this study will also touch upon the ways in which nationalist myths have been harnessed as a reactionary response to socioeconomic insecurities and the fast pace of change that has invested most societies. 

In conclusion, this study provides a comprehensive analysis of the intricate nexus between the construction and reinterpretation of nationalist myths and the rise of anti-immigration sentiments in Europe. This will be achieved by illuminating the ways in which nationalist narratives have shaped public attitudes and policy responses toward immigration, while also considering the myriad other forces that shape and mold public opinion. Finally, this research proposes as a partial solution the recuperation and galvanization of a different set of myths, which are based on inclusion, on cross-cultural contamination, and on the richness of human experience, as a way to bring about closer integration and stem the rising, worldwide tide of intolerance that will truly and finally reject nationalism.

Luca Venga is a postgraduate student at St. Antony’s College, Oxford. He have lived in Italy, the United States and Germany, before moving to England where he obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester with a comparative thesis on the relative strengths and weaknesses of various multilateral institutions. Having always been extremely interested in Latin America, its cultures and its people, he decided to expand his knowledge and enrich his understanding of this wonderful region through the MPhil in Latin American studies at the University of Oxford. At Oxford he has had the chance to explore a variety of themes and trends that span the continent, while designing and carrying out his own independent research geared towards the completion of a 30,000-word thesis. This original contribution to the scholarly literature has been enriched by a multi-month period of fieldwork in Mexico, during which he collected dozens of hours of interviews and ethnographic observation. 

Venga is particularly interested in questions of nationalism, political participation, authority and security, and he is committed to exploring these issues through a variety of means, both within and beyond academia. He collaborated with Italian think-tank IARI (Istituto Analisi Relazioni Internazionali) as Editor in Chief of the Latin American Desk, publishing a number of accessible articles in collaboration with other scholars. More recently, he has joined AKE International as part of a team focusing on political and personal risk in Latin America, providing detailed and relevant analyses to business leaders, policymakers and other stakeholders. An avid reader, sports enthusiast, and traveler, he is always looking forward to the next adventure, such as rowing for his college or beginning a Portuguese language course.


Scandinavian Countries and the Rise of Extremism

Priscilla Otero Guerra (University of Oxford).

This article examines the impact populist parties have had on health policies and health social issues of the Scandinavian countries (Sweden, Norway, and Finland). This is important, given the rise of immigration in the past decade. How do populist attitudes shape health policies? Does health governance change significantly? I highlight the importance of government support for globalization regarding health, interconnecting the Nordic Model to populist parties, ideology, and practice. Health governance, a crucial topic in the politics of migration, is at the intersection of the welfare state and capitalism; thus, the right and left support nationalist and populist attitudes that shape health politics.

Scandinavian countries have a robust history of nationalism. The Nordic region is familiar with political extremism in its right-wing strains. The countries selected and discussed in this paper have historically supported political institutions with ideologies that have espoused the natural genetic superiority of individuals of Nordic descent. So much so that presently, the region has been experiencing a robust rise in far-right political support in the past decade. Since 2016, several of these far-right organizations have been documented by international human rights groups to be of substantial Nazi influence. The establishment of the Nordic paramilitary group Nordic Strength of Sweden in 2019 of the cross-country Nordic Resistance Movement is a nationalist reflection of the most extreme ideas against inward non-Nordic migration.  

To understand the rise of far-right extremism, we need to unfold sentimental and practical roots for the domestic support for populist political parties. Populism is not a novel occurrence in Scandinavia. The working classes have traditionally supported political beliefs that are of populist dimensions. The success of socialist policies is a common characteristic of the region. Left-oriented policies would not have been established if not for the organization of the working classes against the perceived economic elites.  

The Nordic Model combines features of capitalism with social benefits. Immigration, populism, and political parties with ideologies that are pro-welfare have traditionally been supported. Globalization was once supported in the region, and support for globalist policies has been drastically declining. There is a sharp contrast in the region’s support of left-supportive policies as decreased disgruntled members of the working classes change their political orientations. As exemplified in The Battle Over Working-Class Voters (2021) by Sanna Salo and Jens Rydgre, generations of capitalism have created a sentiment of discord and dissatisfaction.  

To conclude, this article attempts to document and analyze the evolution of the working classes of Scandinavian countries. Whilst the working classes once supported left ideologies, the rise of immigration from non-Nordic countries has increased support for anti-globalist, nationalist, and anti-immigration policies tied to nationalist nativist rhetoric.   

Priscilla Otero Guerra is a postgraduate student at the University of Oxford. She is a member of St. Antony’s College, Oxford and is interested in state-society relations, political violence, geopolitics, and the politics of development. Her research interests include political regimes, state capacity, political parties, and socio-political determinants of development. Priscilla’s additional interests in political/economic history and philosophy navigate topics that intersect comparative and international affairs disciplines, analyzing liberties, policies, and strategies. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in political science and philosophy from Gustavus Adolphus College with high honors and distinctions. Her regions of specialization include the United States, Latin America, and Europe. Priscilla is working on a book on philosophy of mind and a project on Latin American affairs.  


Gendering Conflict: A Comparative Study of How Palestinian Civilians and Arab European Refugees Are Portrayed Within Europe Parliamentarian Narratives 

Arunima Cheruvathoor (Global and Area Studies at the University of Oxford).

The Israel-Palestine issue has emerged as central to the geopolitical foci of candidates contesting the 2024 European Parliament Elections. Historically, the representatives of the 27 states in the Parliament have struggled to find a common stance on the decades-long issue. The five major political groups within the Parliament articulate distinct objectives they seek to advance concerning the treatment of Palestinians and more recently, schisms in geopolitical ‘goal’ alignment were noted in the responses given by parliamentarians in the face of the increasing violence in Gaza since October 7, 2023. More intriguingly, the discourses on the treatment of Palestinian civilians, with its multiple variations in the European Parliament, have been non-uniform in many respects except one: the construction and simultaneous imposition of an assumed (and indeed, uninterrogated) gendered performance upon Palestinian female civilians, who are framed solely as victims, within the European Parliamentarians’ narratives. 

This paper utilizes Van Dijk’s (2005) methodology of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) to examine statements and press releases issued by political groups within the European Parliament and Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from October 7, 2023. The primary aim of this paper is to discern the conceptualizations of Palestinian female subjectivities within these discourses, whilst simultaneously comparing it to the discoursal subject-positions of (other, non-Palestinian) Arab female refugees in Europe. Contributing to the existing academic literature on the gendered conceptualizations of Arab refugees in Europe within European state discourses (building upon the works of Yuval-Davis, 2007; Abu-Lughod, 2015; Spijkerboer, 2017 and others), this paper highlights and timely addresses an academic lacuna by delving into the intricate ways in which the recent discourses of MEPs and political groups construct Palestinian female subjectivities—which has largely been academically unexplored— and how these discoursal constructs intersect with the prevailing gendered conceptualizations of Arab refugees in Europe within parliamentarian narratives. 

Building upon the works of decolonial scholars such as Dipesh Chakrabarty (2000), Saba Mahmood (2005), and Gayatri Spivak (2009 and 2023), among others, this paper excavates how within the heterogeneous opinions of MEPs, the uninterrogated and continually evoked gendered Palestinian identities, has resulted in the surfacing of the female Palestinian body as a discoursal vacuum upon which expected performances of victimhood are interpellated, framing her solely in terms of her perceived vulnerability. Postulating that the uninterrogated conceptions of Palestinian gendered citizenship within parliamentarian discourses simultaneously parallels the discoursal subject-positions of Arab refugees in Europe, this paper forwards the argument that largely, Arab women are seen solely as victims that need to be saved by European state intervention, ultimately diminishing Arab women’s self-expression, who are then framed solely as victims of (masculine) state and non-state actions. Furthermore, this paper will evidence how, within discourses of the European Parliament, narrative-building on the Israel-Palestine conflict actively utilizes controlled constructs of Palestinian female identity to secure consensus on geo-political intervention whilst perpetuating similarly constructed (and uninterrogated) gendered conceptualizations of Arab refugees in Europe within discourses about the refugee crises in the European Union.

Arunima Cheruvathoor is a young researcher with a Master of Philosophy in Global and Area Studies (2023) from the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies, University of Oxford. She also has a Bachelor of Arts (Honors) in Political Science (2021) and a diploma in Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding (2021) from Lady Shri Ram College for Women, University of Delhi. Her MPhil thesis, titled ‘Masculinization of Politics: Gendering India and China’ used Van Dijik’s methodological framework of Critical Discourse Analysis to examine the construction of female identities within the nationalist narratives of Chinese General Secretary Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, based on a constructed database of 577 Mandarin, English, and Hindi videos, as well as several keynote speeches and press releases by the political leaders. She has previously worked with think-tanks, government organizations, and NGOs in India, Bangladesh and the United Kingdom. Her area of academic expertise is the interpellation of nationalism and gender in elite political discourses. She continues writing academically whilst currently employed as a Program Officer for the Rhodes Trust, whilst also working as a Project Assistant for Dr Jane Gingrich.


Digital Engagement and Political Voices: A Comparative Analysis of Skilled Immigrant Women in Ottawa and Stockholm  

Ayshan Mammadzada (The University of Ottawa).

This study delves into how digital platforms are vital for skilled immigrant women in Ottawa, Canada, and Stockholm, Sweden, to engage in political discourse and counter populist narratives. Ottawa and Stockholm are chosen for their unique positions in the global landscape of immigration and digital innovation and their encounters with populist movements.

Ottawa, as Canada’s capital, is not only the political heart of the country but also a burgeoning tech hub. It boasts a significant number of tech firms and start-ups, contributing to a vibrant digital economy. The city’s immigration policy is one of the most progressive, with Canada welcoming over 300,000 immigrants annually, fostering a multicultural environment where skilled immigrants play a crucial role in the socio-economic fabric. Despite this openness, Canada has not been immune to the global rise of populism, with increasing debates on immigration policy and national identity affecting political discourse.

Stockholm, on the other hand, stands as a beacon of innovation in Europe, home to numerous tech unicorns such as Spotify and Skype. Sweden’s immigration policy has been notably generous, particularly in response to the Syrian refugee crisis, positioning Stockholm as a key destination for skilled and asylum-seeking immigrants alike. However, like Ottawa, Stockholm has witnessed the growth of populist sentiments that challenged the country’s immigration stance and contributed to a polarized political climate.

The selection of Ottawa and Stockholm for this study is rooted in their similarities as progressive, tech-savvy cities with robust immigrant populations, and their differences in handling the challenges posed by populist politics. Both cities offer a rich context for exploring how skilled immigrant women leverage digital platforms for political engagement. For example, initiatives like Ottawa’s Digital Inclusion Strategy aim to bridge the digital divide, a crucial step for ensuring equitable access to digital platforms for political activism. Similarly, Stockholm’s innovative public-private partnerships in digital infrastructure provide fertile ground for political engagement among immigrants.

By employing a mixed-methods approach, this research aims to uncover the strategies skilled immigrant women in these cities use to navigate digital platforms for political activism, their challenges, and their successes. This includes examining the role of social media campaigns, digital forums, and online communities in shaping political participation and countering populist narratives.

The expected outcomes include a deeper understanding of digital engagement’s role in empowering skilled immigrant women politically, offering insights into the broader implications for democratic participation and policymaking in the face of rising populism. This comparative analysis between Ottawa and Stockholm will highlight effective practices and potential barriers to digital political engagement, providing a blueprint for leveraging technology to enhance democratic inclusion and resilience against populist challenges.

In conclusion, Ottawa and Stockholm serve as compelling case studies for examining the intersections of immigration, digital engagement, and political activism. This research not only contributes to the academic discourse on digital democracy and immigration but also offers practical insights for policymakers, activists, and community organizers aiming to foster inclusive political environments.

Ayshan Mammadzada is a PhD candidate in Geography, specializing in Canadian Studies at the University of Ottawa. Her thesis examines the resilience of skilled immigrants in Ottawa: the role of gender, occupation, and place of settlement. She serves as a Data, Research, and Policy Analyst at the Ottawa Local Immigration Partnership, working on improving immigrant integration and policy development. With over 12 years of experience in different sectors of Canada, the USA, China, Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, she also worked as a consultant at immigrant-based companies to localize their businesses. Fluent in Azerbaijani and English, proficient in Russian and Turkish, and with reading knowledge in French learning, her research reflects her interdisciplinary and international background. Addressing the challenges skilled immigrants face and contributing to creating more equitable and inclusive societies motivates her research on immigration. 


Panel 4

Intersection of Populist Politics, Far Right and Asylum Policies


The Victory Party at the Crossroads of Asylum Policies and Populist Discourse in Turkey

Ezgi Irgil (Postdoctoral Research Fellow within the Global Politics and Security Programme at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs).

Zeynep Sahin Mencutek (Ph.D., Senior Researcher at Bonn International Centre for Conflict Studies).

This paper delves into the intricate interplay between immigration-related populism and political dynamics in Turkey, specifically focusing on the Victory Party. Established in 2021, the party became quite vocal during the 2023 national election campaign as a purely anti-immigrant and populist political party. Although the party’s share of the vote remained tiny, it propelled the anti-refugee narrative and pushed other parties to embrace more radical discourses and seek alliances with them in the second round of the 2023 election. Given this context, the study scrutinises the multifaceted relationship between asylum policies and populist rhetoric aiming to influence public opinion. By analysing the discourse surrounding refugees, the research seeks to unravel the complex web of influences that shape public sentiment and anti-immigrant and pro-repatriation discourse in Turkey’s political agenda through the rise of the Victory Party. 

Existing studies that analyse immigration-related populism and political parties focus either on the national level refugee politics in countries hosting larger numbers like Egypt, Pakistan, Colombia, Lebanon (Ahmad, 2017; Fakhoury, 2021; Freier & Parent, 2019; Nassar & Stel 2019; Norman, 2019, 2020; Tsourapas, 2017), or the populist political parties’ influence in domestic politics that adopt anti-immigrant discourse in the Western contexts (Dennison & Geddes, 2019; Hameleers, 2019; Norris, 2019; Stetka et al., 2021; Wodak, 2019). Yet, what has been overlooked is the domestic political impact of refugee rentierism as an issue through anti-immigrant political party discourse and how it is used to influence the domestic political agenda through populist rhetoric in a country with a protracted refugee situation. Thus, in this paper, we ask: how does a newly emerged populist party influence the domestic political agenda and discourse in Turkey? What does this interplay tell us about the refugee rentierism’s dynamics in domestic politics? 

To answer this question, we use discourse analysis of the media speeches (or broader media coverage) of the party leader, focusing on the period after the foundation of the Victory Party and until the elections (2021-2023). Thus, we demonstrate the extent to which factors contribute to shaping the political agendas of various parties, with a spotlight on the strategies employed by analysing the Victory Party within the context of refugee rentierism and how this rentierism manifests itself as an outcome in domestic politics. We argue that the Victory Party uses the issue of refugee commodification in domestic politics through populist discourses to obtain and create a platform for anti-refugee political strategies as a means to extract votes regardless of if the party secure seats in the parliament or not. Hence, we further argue that the Victory Party uses refugee commodification as a bargaining chip within domestic politics, either using the existing one or creating a new one, through three ways: (1) by becoming an agenda-setter on populist narratives and debates over refugees, (2) by enabling other political parties to adopt anti-refugee rhetoric and shape other political parties’ agendas on the refugee issue, and (3) by making use of the institutional context in anti-refugee rhetoric. 

Overall, the findings aim to contribute to a nuanced understanding of the complex dynamics shaping immigration-related policies and their implications on political strategies in migration studies and populism studies, which may be generalisable to the cases in similar contexts. Although refugee commodification/rentierism is often addressed in relation to foreign policy and aid, the study indicates its relevance in domestic politics, particularly with election times, further elaborating the link between refugee rentierism and domestic politics.

Ezgi Irgil is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow within the Global Politics and Security Programme at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs (UI). Her work lies at the intersection of politics and forced migration, particularly focusing on migration diplomacy and migration management in the Middle East and the European Union and everyday politics of forced migration. She is a member of EuroMeSCo Euro-Mediterranean Research, Dialogue, Advocacy Network and IN2PREV Project’s Frontline Practitioners Network. She received her PhD in Political Science from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, her MA in International Affairs from the George Washington University, Washington, DC, and her BA in Political Science and International Relations from Boğaziçi University, Istanbul, Turkey.

Zeynep Sahin Mencutek is currently Senior Researcher at Bonn International Centre for Conflict Studies (BICC). She co-leads a Horizon Europe project, called GAPs on migrant returns and return policies with Uppsala University. She is also Research Affiliate with Canadian Excellence Research Chair in Migration and Integration, Toronto Metropolitan University and conducts joint research on the thematic area of Governance of Migration in a Globalizing World.  She held the prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellowship for Experienced Researchers (June 2020–May 2021) and an international fellowship at the Centre for Global Cooperation Research in Duisburg (2019–2020). She also served as Senior Researcher for the Horizon 2020 project RESPOND: Multilevel Governance of Mass Migration in Europe and Beyond. Previously, she worked as an Assistant Professor in Turkey, and in 2018, she achieved the rank of Docent in international relations.  

Dr. Mencutek received her PhD in politics and international relations from the University of Southern California in 2011. Her research interests include politics of migration, migration governance, diaspora studies and return migration. She has published in a wide variety of international peer-reviewed journals in the area of migration, such as the Journal of Refugee Studies and Comparative Migration Studies, as well as journals in the area of international politics, including Geopolitics, Journal of Global Security Studies, and International Studies Review. Besides dozens of book chaptersshe published a monograph, Refugee Governance, State and Politics in the Middle East (Routledge 2018). Sherecently co-authored a book, Syrian Refugees in Turkey (IMISCOE Series, 2023).


Populist Politics Kills Asylum Policies: How Populist Discourses About Migration in Bulgaria Invent the ‘Refugee Crisis’

Dr. Ildiko Otova (Assistant Professor in International Migration at New Bulgarian University).

Dr. Evelina Staykova (Associate professor in Political Science at New Bulgarian University).

Migration is a highly politicized phenomenon. It is one of the favourite topics of populists who create crises with their discourses about it, which they instrumentalise for their own gain. The Bulgarian case is particularly interesting. A country of immigrants, with an acute demographic problem, whose politicians (re)discover immigrants and turn them into the most convenient other. The lack of experience with “visible” immigrant communities and the (mis)presentation of immigration processes as a national catastrophe in the poorest of the EU member states, against the background of dominant populist discourses, lead to negative public attitudes towards asylum seekers. Political anti-immigrant discourse is translated into policies or lack thereof, creating a crisis in both cases. This article focuses on one of the most vivid periods not only in the Bulgarian migration experience but also in the European one, which goes down in history as the ‘Long Summer of Migration’ (Kasparek & Spear, 2015). The analysis illustrates the politicization of migration in Bulgaria during this particular period. This process was internalized at the time but was a turning point in policymaking and public opinion for a long period.

Ildiko Otova is an Assistant Professor of international migration at New Bulgarian University. Dr Otova holds a PhD in Political science from the New Bulgarian University and is a laureate of the Mozer Scholarship for Excellence in Political Science and Civil Courage. Her main academic and scientific interests are migration and refugee issues, integration, urban policies, (е)citizenship, far right and populism, and current forms of antisemitism. ORCID ID: 0000-0002-3620-3067

Evelina Staykova is Associate Professor in political sciences at New Bulgarian University. She is head of the Department of Political Sciences and coordinator of CERMES (Centre for Refugees, Migration and Ethnic Studies). Her teaching and research interests include migration and urban studies, citizenship and e-democracy, populism, and far-right extremism. Dr. Staykova is experienced in coordinating and participating in various national and international projects on the quality of democracy, integration of migrants and refugees, development of city policies, populist strategies, and counter-movements. Her last projects are “MATILDE – Migration Impact Assessment to Enhance Integration and Local Development in European Rural and Mountain Regions” (Horizon 2020), “ReCriRe – Representations of the Crisis and Crisis of Representation” (Horizon 2020); “CEASEVAL – Evaluation of the common European asylum system under pressure and recommendations for further development” (Horizon 2020). She has publications in English, French, Russian and Bulgarian languages. Her last book is Migration and Populism in Bulgaria. Routledge, 2022. ORCID ID: 0000-0001-9155-3169


The More Refugees, the More Votes’: The Role of Migration on the AfD Growth

Avdi Smajljaj (Assistant Professor and lecturer at the Department of Political Sciences and International Relations, Epoka University, Tirana, Albania). 

Recently there has been an increased likelihood of significant neo-Nazi leaning of the electorate in Germany. This is best proved by the continuous increase of the number of votes Alternative für Deutschland / Alternative for Germany (AfD) is getting, not just in Eastern Germany but country wide. The growth of AfD is being consistently driven by migration waves, especially the one in 2015 and later. AfD started against the Euro as a single-issue political party, to switch to an anti-migration and Eurosceptic political party after the Euro crisis was managed successfully. The paper will look at migration’s role in the development and expansion of the AfD. How does AfD use migration as a tool for increasing electoral support? What is the AfD approach toward migration? And how does the AfD populist party impact the party politics and democracy in Germany and broader at the EU level? 

Avdi Smajljaj is an Assistant Professor and a lecturer at the Department of Political Sciences and International Relations, Epoka University, Tirana, Albania. His research interests include political parties, electoral systems, EU integration, public policy, political theory, democracy, and democratization. His latest publications evaluated populism in the Balkans.


Between Gastfreundschaft and Überfremdung: The Populist Origins of Migration Politics in the Federal Republic of Germany, 1973-1983.  

Simon Ahrens (The University of Oxford).

This paper offers a rare historical account of the interplay between populist politics and migration in Germany. It traces how national identity discourses among political parties in West Germany shaped an increasingly populist immigration and foreigner policy between 1973 and 1983. After World War II, West Germany became one of the world’s largest migrant-receiving countries. In addition to ethnic German war refugees, expellees and East German refugees, the government recruited fourteen million guest workers between 1955 and 1973, predominantly from Italy, Turkey, Spain, Greece, and Yugoslavia. This labour migration was meant to ameliorate the recovering economy’s labour shortages temporarily. Yet it inadvertently laid the groundwork for the permanent settlement of three million guest workers and their families. 

Drawing on Critical International Relations theory, this paper argues that guest worker immigration blurred West Germany’s national boundaries of belonging. Most political parties denied the young Federal Republic’s status as a country of immigration. They mobilised populist narratives to construct guest workers as a foreign ‘Other’ in relation to an ethnically defined national ‘Self’. From the guest worker recruitment stop in 1973 to the federal elections of 1983, national identity discourses turned immigration policy vis-a-vis the ‘new ethnic minorities’ into a political battlefield on which the future of the nation-state was negotiated.  Controversial parliamentary debates on sovereignty and citizenship initially neglected and then aggressively politicised and securitised the national membership of guest workers. 

Existing research has emphasised the economic outcomes of West German guest worker policies rather than their populist origins. By highlighting party-political debates on immigration, this paper fills this gap. It explores how and why particular concepts of nationhood affected policymaking once the permanent settlement of guest workers dominated German ‘high politics’ after 1973. Through a discourse analysis of immigration and foreigner laws, party programmes, and parliamentary speeches, I identify three critical junctures of emerging populist migration politics: the recruitment stop in 1973, the Kuehn Memorandum in 1979, and the federal elections in 1983. These critical junctures, in turn, expose three hegemonic national identity discourses, which powerfully shaped immigration and foreigner policies: economic, humanitarian, and ethnocentric. 

The recruitment stops of guest workers in 1973 marked a transition from economic ‘cost-benefit’ discourses on immigration to political portrayals of the immigrant ‘Other’ as a harbinger of social instability. A humanitarian discourse of Gastfreundschaft (hospitality) in the SPD-sponsored Kuehn Memorandum of 1979 demanded the liberalisation of immigration policy by emphasising foreigners’ post-national membership rights. The backlash of an ethnocentric discourse reinvigorated the ethno-culturalist identity politics of Überfremdung (foreign infiltration) during the federal election campaign of 1983. As permanent multiculturalism became inevitable, the CDU/CSU-led government framed guest workers as a security threat from within the nation. Post-war debates on immigration signalled a partial restoration of Germany’s ethnocentric past rather than a comprehensive introduction of a new national identity oriented at the country’s multicultural future. 

The nexus between national identity discourses and immigration policy between 1973 and 1983 had a long-term impact on populist migration politics in Germany. Despite political recognitions of Germany’s status as a country of immigration and changes to citizenship and migration laws in the early 2000s, decades of reform hesitancy by conservative governments entrenched ethnocentric conceptions of nationhood and rendered them vulnerable to populist mobilization. Since the European refugee ‘crisis’ of 2015, the increasingly popular Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) has rooted its anti-immigration rhetoric in the alleged erosion of German sovereignty during the guest worker period. To make sense of this resurging ethnocentrism ahead of the European Parliament elections in 2024, this paper provides a starting point for more systematic research on historical constructions of the ‘foreigner problem’ in Germany and beyond.  

Simon Ahrens has recently graduated with an MPhil in Development Studies (Distinction) from the University of Oxford as a Clarendon Scholar. In his thesis, he conducted fieldwork in Botswana’s Ministry of Education. Using elite interviews and document analysis, he explored how civil servants reflect on nationhood, particularly the construction of official nationalisms through curriculum development and language policymaking in education. 


Panel 5

The Influence of Populist Anti-Immigration Narratives on European Self 


Refugees and the Eurosceptics: Understanding the Shifts in the Political Landscape of Europe

Amrita Purkayastha (Assistant Professor at Bangalore, India).

Europe has experienced an extraordinary inflow of refugees since 2015, which raised many questions regarding the inefficiency of the region as a whole in tackling the crisis and changing the region’s political consciousness. There were debates among countries that polarized the region regarding accepting refugees as it would allocate sufficient resources to the new entrants. Although the pressure of the influx of refugees has lessened over the years, the region has been polarized into three zones- the liberal countries of Western Europe, the moderate countries of the Mediterranean region and the erstwhile communist countries of Eastern Europe. 

A visible securitization of the region proves the tensions created due to the large influx of refugees in the region. The tensions and xenophobic tendencies against the arrival of refugees can be reflected in the sudden rise of right-wing populist parties throughout the European region. The sudden surge has led to a shift in the choices and perceptions of the voters in many countries, including both Eastern and Western Europe. Eurosceptic right-wing parties indulge in negative, uncivil campaigns that result in fearmongering among people towards a particular issue or a community. The issue of refugees from Middle Eastern and North African countries in the last decade has been the biggest issue dividing the Eurosceptic and Europhile parties and electoral campaigns, especially by the far-right parties. While each of these parties has different policies and their electoral campaigns vary, the prime issue in their agenda remains the influx of refugees having a different ethnicity from the Middle Eastern and North African countries, which has resulted in the loss of homogenous stability in Europe. 

Many people have been echoing the populist opinions and extreme ideas of the right-wingers regarding the influx of refugees. Reference can be provided to the infamous speeches of the Hungarian and Dutch leaders who openly spoke about their fear of refugees altering the homogenous structure of Europe. Political parties have played a pivotal role in provoking the citizens against the reception of refugees in Europe. In this scenario, the research wants to highlight the rise of Euroscepticism among the member countries fueled by the right-wing parties. It will further try to analyze the effect of Euroscepticism on the youth of these countries and how far it affects the elective behavior of these young voters. Additionally, the research wants to examine the changes that have taken place in the political landscape of Europe. 

Amrita Purkayastha is an Assistant Professor at Bangalore, India and an independent researcher. Her research interest includes areas like refugee laws, migration, and European regional affairs. After completing her doctorate degree from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Amrita is currently working as a freelance “Academic Writer” for two companies. Previously, she worked as a content writer and translator before starting her present jobs. She has three peer-reviewed publications centering on different issues of refugees around the world.


Populist Discourse and European Identity: A Poststructuralist Analysis

Nazmul Hasan (Visva-Bharati University, Santiniketan, West Bengal, India).

Discourse theory emerged in the late 1970s as a response to the challenges of mainstream theory following critiques of structuralist language, culture, and the crisis of Marxism amid the rise of neoliberal and neoconservative ideologies. Discourse theory didn’t aim to provide a new fixed theoretical framework but offered a flexible analytical perspective. It focused on the rules and meanings shaping social, political, and cultural identity construction.

There is a recognition of the social nature of identity, particularly within modernity, where human identity is inherently social. This entails an understanding of identity as socially constructed. From a discourse theory perspective, the issue of identity is not about actively constructing it. The rejection of the obviousness and essentialism of social identities brings attention to the political dimension of identity formation, emphasizing its reliance on contingent hegemonic struggles and processes of inclusion or exclusion. It also reveals that the ongoing political construction of social identities never leads to a closed, self-contained, and absolute identity. According to Ernesto Laclau, understanding this process is the psychoanalytic category of identification. This concept explicitly posits a lack at the root of any identity with something such as a political ideology or ethnic group because there is an inherent and insurmountable lack of identity. The act of identification arises from a fundamental absence or incompleteness in one’s sense of self. This psychoanalytic perspective helps shed light on the dynamics of identity construction in both personal and political realms.

Exploring Freud’s insights on identification and group formation can contribute to understanding questions related to collective identity. Freud suggests that the cohesive power of groups, as seen in examples like the church and the army, is rooted in symbolic meaning and discourse and the libidinal organization of groups. In collective identification, individuals are bound by libidinal ties to both the leader and other group members.

Lacan builds on Freud’s focus on the affective side of identification, redirecting it to the paths of enjoyment (jouissance). In Lacan’s framework, jouissance, an excessive and charged satisfaction bordering on pain, aligns with Freud’s concept of libido. Lacan reconceptualizes sexual energy in terms of jouissance, distinguishing between the symbolic (representation and discourse) and the real (jouissance), the subject of representation is associated with unconscious desire, while the subject of affect or the ‘enjoyment subject’ is linked to jouissance. So, identification operates on both discursive structural or representation and jouissance.

Ole Waever employs poststructuralist discourse theory to analyze how major European powers, particularly Germany and France, construct distinct ‘we’ – identities. This construction involves integrating notions of ‘state’, ‘nation’, and ‘Europe’ into their self-defining narratives. Yannis Stavrakakis supplements discourse theory with Lacanian insights to delve into the contemporary paradoxes and dilemmas surrounding constructing a European identity.

This article explores what contributes to the appeal of identity construction, why people collectively identify with specific formations and the implications of such identification. The goal is to pave the way for a more sophisticated discussion of identity formation, particularly in the context of European identity. The article emphasizes the incorporation of psychoanalytic considerations, particularly the problem of enjoyment, to enrich the discourse-theoretical account of identification. This includes not only formal or discursive but also substantive or affective identification conditions, termed as ‘obscene dimension’.

Nazmul Hasan has a post-graduate degree in Philosophy. He is a doctoral researcher in the Department of Philosophy and Comparative Religion, Visva-Bharati University, Santiniketan, West Bengal, India. His area of research interest is mainly political philosophy. His current research project is titled Populist Reason: A Philosophical Enquiry. He published papers on political activism, democracy, and populism in India. 


Nationalism and Anti-Immigration Sentimentalism in Europe

Sulagna Pal (PhD Research Scholar, Department of Philosophy, University of Delhi, India).

This study attempts to demonstrate how trajectories of nationalism and anti-immigration sentimentalism in Europe are seen through the philosophical ideas of Johann Gottfried Herder, Rabindranath Tagore, David Miller, Kieran Oberman and others. While Herder’s idea of nationalism was rooted in cultural, linguistic and ethnic identities, Tagore was keen on challenging what he called ‘narrow-centric’ nationalism and racism. Tagore’s cosmopolitan and universal humanistic values sought to transcend narrow parochial boundaries in favour of a broader understanding of humanity. His legendary short story Kabuliwala, written in 1892, depicts the life of a migrant from Afghanistan who chose to live in Calcutta for social and economic reasons (Eggel et al., 2007; Panjabi et al., 2023). This study suggests that Herder’s ‘brotherhood of humanity,’ Tagore’s pro-migration Kabuliwala narrative and Oberman’s classical liberal principles of freedom of movement and anti-coercion might help combat the growing anti-immigration sentimentalism in Europe in nuanced ways.

Keywords: Anti-Immigration, David Miller, Johann Gottfried Herder, Kieran Oberman, Kabuliwala, Nationalism, Rabindranath Tagore  

Sulagna Pal is a PhD candidate in the Philosophy Department of the University of Delhi. She worked as an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Janki Devi Memorial College, University of Delhi, from July 2017 to March 2023. She has an M.Phil. in Philosophy in Environmental Ethics from Delhi University in 2016. Following are her areas of interest: Ethics, Meta-Ethics, Normative Ethics, Applied Ethics, Buddhism, and Philosophy of Religion. She was a part of the International Conference of Philosophy, held in the Philosophy Department, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, EU, in 2013, funded by a Travel and Maintenance Grant from the Indian Council of Social Science Research, New Delhi. She was part of a Buddhist Conference held in Sri Lanka in 2013. She has many papers published in various journals and a book on the gendered body and environmental pluralism published by the Lambert Academic Publishing House, Germany.


A Critique of Eurocentric Conceptualizations of Social Cohesion in Academia, Refugee Policy, and Refugee Settings

Basma Doukhi (The University of Kent).

This paper applies a postcolonial approach to contest Eurocentric ways of thinking and approaches the contemporary phenomenon of mass displacement, tracing the origins of this thinking to history, power, and colonization (Said, 1993). This approach allows for a critical understanding of social cohesion as a Western construct, which can be challenged by examining the concept’s application in diverse contexts (Lemberg-Pedersen et al., 2022). Mainstream social cohesion is a politically and socially contested concept that has been deployed by scholars, policymakers, and practitioners to define, and can be operationalized in two distinct discourses. The first is an academic and theoretical discourse which has emerged in sociology and social psychology fields (Norton & de Haan, 2013). The second is a policy-oriented discourse, which offers a Western top-down and problem-driven perspective to examine solutions to diverse challenges undermining social cohesion (Norton & de Haan, 2013). Bernard (2000: 2-3) commented on social cohesion’s deployment within these two discourses by defining it as a ‘quasi-concept’ or ‘concept of convenience’ that is “flexible enough to allow the meanderings and necessities of political action from day to day.” This flexibility has allowed the promotion of social cohesion as an agenda within these discourses leading to “…a move away from multiculturalism to a social cohesion agenda” (Gozdecka et al., 2014: 56).

This paper is a critical review that contests Western conceptualizations of social cohesion across Western and English-speaking policy and academic contexts including North America and Europe (Jenson, 1998; Markus, 2010; de Berry & Roberts, 2018; Ozcurumez & Hoxha, 2020). It argues that the concept, as presented in the discourses above, is rooted in Western sociology and follows a Western framework (Ozcurumez & Hoxha, 2020). Reviewing literature, it shows how limited knowledge about social cohesion’s application is limited and undermined in refugee contexts and argues how understanding the practices of community from the perspectives of displaced people, beyond achieving social cohesion as defined in Western academic and policy discourses, should be a priority (Delhey et al., 2018). 

Discussions and understanding of social cohesion by refugees in a refugee setting have been under-researched (Delhey et al., 2018, Fiddian- Qasmiyeh et al., 2022). Instead, social cohesion has become an elastic term co-opted into a buzzword for the institutions of the Global North within academic and policy discourses, rather than as a concept to understand the lived experiences of the people at the forefront (Seyidov, 2021). Looking beyond these discourses, the paper examines possible context-aware alternative conceptualizations of the concept, such as ”harmonization,’ that have been explored by researchers on refugee integration in Türkiye (Hoffmann & Samuk 2016: 10). Exploring Türkiye highlights how this Western understanding of social cohesion has contributed to  limited applicability, measurements, relevance, and vagueness in low and middle-income countries (Gray Meral & Both, 2021) and to new forced displacement and migration, conflict-affected and refugee contexts (Ozcurumez & Hoxha, 2020; Finn, 2017; de Berry & Roberts, 2018), ‘risk[ing] the effectiveness of the word – and the outcome – altogether’ (Mookherjee & Easton-Calabria, 2017).

Basma Doukhi is a Ph.D. Candidate in Migration Studies at the University of Kent. She is a Palestinian academic, human rights activist, and humanitarian practitioner. She worked for more than fourteen years in humanitarian and development with displaced people with UN agencies and international NGOs in the MENA and the UK. Basma was raised and lived in Al Rashideh Palestinian Refugee Camp in the South of Lebanon and is currently based in Canterbury, UK.  Basma obtained a Chevening Scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in the Development and Emergency Practice at Oxford Brookes University, and She is recently pursuing her PhD in Migration Studies at the University of Kent as the first Palestinian refugee woman specialized in this topic from the camps in the MENA. Her Ph.D. explores the role of Refugee-Led Organizations in providing protection and assistance for displaced communities in Turkey. She published the first chapter, under the title, “The Moment We Arrived to Saida [City in the South of Lebanon] in the Afternoon, We Became Refugees’ – (Kanafani, 2015: 75) ” about the resilience and power of Palestinian Refugee women in the camps of Lebanon. Basma is also a Dabke dancer and a founder of Roouh social enterprise, which is a platform for female refugee artisans to tell their stories in their own words through their craft, and it is addressed to UK audiences to listen to these stories in the way that they want to be told. 


Panel 6

Diverse Aspects of Anti-Migrant Populism in Europe


Enemies Inside: European Populism and Dimensions of Euroscepticism 

Ana Paula Tostes (Senior Fellow at the Brazilian Center of International Relations and Professor at the State University of Rio de Janeiro).

Despite the apparently undeniable impact of regional integration on domestic politics, national societies and the European party systems, scholars have engaged in lengthy debates on the levels, limits, and importance of such an impact (e.g. Kitschelt, 1992; Gabel, 2000; Mair, 2005, 2007; Poguntke & Scarrow, 1996). Taggart (1998), Marks et al. (2002) and Marks et al. (2006) found evidence that national political parties’ position on the regional integration process in Europe is a variable that explains voter preferences. Along the same lines, Stefano Bartolini (2007) sustained that no other issue in “post-war electoral history” has had the same broad and standardizing effects across the European party system as the regional integration process. The authors examine voter preferences in national elections based on the level of support for regional integration. In a disaggregated manner, the authors rate the ideological and party positions according to the level of support for integration in the economic and political spheres. The emergence of issues related to identity, sovereignty, safety, etc. – that is, “non-material” issues in ideological positions on both the right and the left – proved to be variables that influence the preferences of European voters.  

Since the early 2000s, it became remarkable that criticisms of economic integration that strongly opposed economic integration, such as the far-left political parties, did not see significant popularity among voters. Criticisms of the liberal model for a single market did not create obvious costs or harm for citizens distant from the integration process and did not perceive any economic losses. On the contrary, throughout the 1990s, countries most affected by the 2008 financial crisis benefitted from the transfers of European resources from the European Structural Funds. A similar situation happened after the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in an unprecedented economic contraction in 2020. 

In the two cases, the EU’s response to transfer benefits, policies, and funds was fast, forceful, and well-coordinated at all levels. 

We cannot say the same about the social and political integration contestants once the migration crises appeared as a yeast to make intolerance grow in the region, on the one hand, and populism on the other. In the context of the European migration crisis that began in 2015, it is possible to notice a considerable increase in the politicization of the issue of defending national identity and culture, especially by new far-right political parties (Hutter & Kriesi, 2019; Halikioupolou & Vlandas, 2020). 

Despite the ambiguities of populism (Judis, 2016; Müller, 2016; Kaltwasser, 2012), we seek to analyze the dimensions and consequences of Euroscepticism by classifying populist political parties and examining electoral data. For this article, we use the national electoral results for extremist political parties over the period when the European new extreme right emerged in the 1980s to 2022.  

By identifying differences between countries and in the range of ideological positions from the right to the left in the EU-15, it will be possible to conclude the EU crises’ impacts on support for new populist ideologies. We use data on electoral support and the analysis of far-right and far-left parties, their political platforms, and strategies as our object of investigation to gain a better perspective on the current state of Euroscepticism in the region. Finally, we hope to confirm that even though the dimensions of diffuse or specific Euroscepticism (Kopecky & Mudde, 2002) may be complementary at times, we see that the difference between the two is reproduced in the Eurosceptic ideological positions defended by the left and those defended by the right.

Ana Paula Tostes is Jean Monnet Chair (Project: 101127443 EUgac) and Professor at the Graduate Program in Political Science at the Institute of Social and Political Studies of the State University of Rio de Janeiro (IESP-UERJ) and Senior Fellow at the Brazilian Center of International Relations (CEBRI). She holds a PhD in Political Science (IUPERJ, currently IESP) and Postdoc at University of São Paulo (USP). She was a visiting researcher (2016-2017) at the Free University of Berlin (FUB) and Professor at Michigan State University (MSU). Currently holds Productivity Scholarships from FAPERJ (Prociência/UERJ) and CNPq (n.316785/2021-0), and she is coordinator of Program for International Cooperation (PROBRAL CAPES/DAAD Edital n. 9/2023) between IESP/UERJ and the German Institute for Global Studies and Area Studies (GIGA), Hamburg, Germany.


Emigration and Political Party Membership in Central and Eastern Europe: Evidence from a Difference-in-Differences Design 

Melle Scholten (The University of Virginia).

How does large-scale emigration affect politics in the peripheral states of the European Union? While a large amount of literature looks at the political consequences of immigration in the more affluent Western and Northern member states, comparatively few scholars have taken up the mantle of examining the political effects of large-scale emigration in Central and Eastern Europe. Since emigration ranks higher among the concerns of non-migrants in these countries than immigration, this question is not without import. It could potentially help explain democratic backsliding in the Union. From a political economy perspective, high levels of emigration, concentrated in the younger, more progressive parts of society, change the makeup of the electorate. This project investigates how emigration, and its associated economic and political consequences affect policymaking and politics in CEE countries. Evidence is provided from panel data and a generalized difference-in-differences estimator. The findings presented here matter for the future of democracy in what is arguably the international organization most concerned with promoting democracy among its members. They also contribute to the study of the political economy of the Single Market and intra-European migration.

Melle Scholten is a PhD candidate at the University of Virginia (UVA). His research projects examine international and comparative political economy, primarily focusing on the effects of migration and remittances on migrant-sending societies, employing quantitative methods and causal inference. 


The Role of Populism in Redefining Citizenship and Social Inclusion for Migrants in Europe

Dr. Edouard Epiphane Yogo (Lecturer-Researcher in Political Science at the University of Yaoundé, Cameroon).

This research critically examines how populism in Europe impacts the redefinition of citizenship and social inclusion for migrants, considering the rise of populist movements and their influence on political discourse, policies, and societal attitudes. The study aims to unravel the intricate ways in which populist ideologies shape the treatment of migrants in European societies, focusing on citizenship redefinition and social inclusion challenges. The literature review explores historical and theoretical aspects of populism in Europe, emphasizing how populist leaders leverage anti-immigrant sentiments to frame migrants as threats to national identity. The mixed-methods approach integrates qualitative interviews with policymakers, activists, and migrants, providing rich insights into subjective experiences. Quantitative data from national surveys complements qualitative findings, offering a broader understanding of trends.

The research delves into citizenship redefinition, analyzing changes in laws and rhetoric under populist influence, especially regarding jus soli and jus sanguinis principles. Social inclusion challenges are scrutinized, considering populist narratives portraying migrants as cultural threats and their impact on public perceptions, media representations, and policy measures affecting integration in education, employment, and healthcare.

Case studies from select European countries showcase variations in populist influence on citizenship and social inclusion policies, considering historical context, economic conditions, and populist movement strength. The research concludes with policy implications, recommending strategies to address challenges posed by populism to migrant populations. The study aims to contribute valuable insights for policymakers, scholars, and advocates working towards a more inclusive and equitable European society amid populist challenges.

Edouard Epiphane Yogo is a lecturer-researcher at the University of Yaoundé, holding a PhD in political science. A specialist in international relations and strategic studies, he has authored over thirty publications, including ten books. His expertise covers security, defense, and geopolitics, with a particular interest in issues related to state fragility, violent extremism, and terroris

Young activists participate in an opposition rally during the Ugandan presidential elections, organized by the FDC (Forum for Democratic Change), opposing the ruling party NRM in Mbale, Uganda on February 14, 2011. Photo: Shutterstock.

ECPS Regional Panel 2: Crisis of Democratic Political Legitimacy and Emerging Populism in Africa

Date/Time: Thursday, May 09, 2024 — 15:00-17:30 (CET)


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Dr. Chipo Dendere (Assistant Professor of Africana Studies at Wellesley College).


“Various Facets of Populist, Authoritarian, and Nationalist Trends in Africa,” by Dr. Henning Melber (Professor, Nordic Africa Institute, Uppsala; Extraordinary Professor at the Department of Political Sciences at the University of Pretoria and the Centre for Gender and Africa Studies at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein).

Democratizing Africa: Navigating Populist Trends, Building Trust in Institutions, and Promoting Stability through Inclusive Governance,” by Dr. Nchofua Anita Nyitioseh (Assistant Lecturer, Department of English Law, University of Bertoua, Cameroon).

“Taming the Lion: On the Conditions of Possibility of a Progressive Populism in Sub-Saharan Africa,” by Dr. Sergiu Mișcoiu (Professor of Political Science, Director of the Centre for International Cooperation Babeș-Bolyai University).

“Populism and The Challenges of Democratic Governance in Africa,” by Dr. Edouard Epiphane Yogo (Executive Director and Principal Researcher at the Bureau of Strategic Studies (BESTRAT), University of Yaoundé II, Cameroon).

Populism Discourse and the Proliferation of Hate during Elections in Central African Sub-region,” by Dr. Derick Fai Kinang (University of Buea, Cameroon).

The Protection of Female Rights and the Rise of Populism in African Democracies: A Need for a Reformed Society,” by Dr. Ama-Ambo Chefor (Senior Lecturer, Department of English Law, University of Dschang, Cameroon).


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Brief Biographies and Abstracts

Dr. Chipo Dendere is a Zimbabwean born scholar of political science. She studies factors that influence party survival and democratization in the developing world. As an Assistant Professor of Africana Studies, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA, she teaches Political Sciences classes on African Politics and Democratization in the Developing World.

She completed my Bachelor of Science Degrees in Political Science and Psychology at Linfield College, OR. She earned her Ph.D. in Political Science, 2015 at Georgia State University under the supervision of Dr. Daniel Young. Her doctoral dissertation and subsequent book manuscript is on the impact of voter exit (via emigration or withdrawal from politics) on the survival of dominant parties. For this work, she interviewed 300 Zimbabweans in four countries. Her new research is on the relationship between African politics and social media in all its varieties.

Various Facets of Populist, Authoritarian, and Nationalist Trends in Africa

Dr. Henning Melber came to Namibia as a son of German immigrants in 1967, where he joined the anti-colonial movement SWAPO in 1974. He was Director of The Namibian Economic Policy Research Unit in Windhoek, Research Director of the Nordic Africa Institute and Director of the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation, both in Uppsala/Sweden. He is an Extraordinary Professor at the Department of Political Sciences/University of Pretoria and the Centre for Gender and Africa Studies/University of the Free State in Bloemfontein and a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London.

He is a trained journalist, studied at the Freie Universität Berlin, and obtained a PhD in Political Sciences (1980) and Sociology (Habilitation in Development Studies 1992) at the University of Bremen.

His latest books include Understanding Namibia: The Trials of Independence (London: Hurst 2014, also Oxford University Press and Jacana), Dag Hammarskjöld, The United Nations and the Decolonisation of Africa (London: Hurst 2019, also Oxford University Press), and (with Reinhart Kößler) Völkermord – und was dann? Die Politik deutsch-namibischer Vergangenheitsbearbeitung (Frankfurt/Main: Brandes & Apsel, 2017).

He is editor of Deutschland und Afrika – Anatomie eines komplexen Verhältnisses (Frankfurt/Main: Brandes & Apsel 2019) and (with Wolfgang Geiger) Kritik des deutschen Kolonialismus – Postkoloniale Sicht auf Erinnerung und Geschichtsvermittlung (Frankfurt/Main: Brandes & Apsel 2021).

Democratizing Africa: Navigating Populist Trends, Building Trust in Institutions, and Promoting Stability through Inclusive Governance

Dr. Nchofua Anita Nyitioseh is a lecturer at the University of Bertoua, within the Faculty of Law and Political Science, specifically in the Department of English Law. Additionally, she holds a part-time position at the University Institute of Leaders Douala and the Institute Supérieur Informatique et Gestion (ISIG), where she contributes to the Department of Transport and Logistics. Recently, she participated in a research writing workshop organized by the Merian Institute for Advanced Studies in Africa, College of Humanities at the University of Ghana.

Nchofua is also a jurist and corporate law specialist, with expertise in Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanisms under OHADA Law. She earned her PhD in Directors’ Duties and the Protection of Stakeholders under OHADA and English Corporate Law from the University of Dschang, Faculty of Law and Political Science, Department of English Law. Her academic journey includes completing a Master’s and Bachelor’s degree in Law from the same institution.

Furthermore, Nchofua is actively engaged in research, focusing on various aspects such as Alternative Dispute Resolution, Consumer Protection, Green Energy Transition, and climate change in Africa, particularly in Cameroon.

Abstract: In recent years, Africa has witnessed a surge in populist movements, challenging established political norms and institutions. This paper explores the diverse trends of populism across the continent, examining their causes, manifestations, and implications for democracy and governance. Against this backdrop, the importance of democratic institutions in fostering political stability and facilitating constructive change is reiterated. Despite significant progress in democratization efforts, suspicion and mistrust of political systems persist in many African societies. This paper delves into the underlying factors contributing to such sentiments, including historical legacies, socio-economic inequalities, and governance failure.

Moreover, insecurity and instability continue to plague African nations, posing formidable challenges to peace, development, and democratic consolidation. Various manifestations of insecurity, ranging from armed conflict to terrorism and organized crime, underscore the urgent need for comprehensive and sustainable solutions. Against this backdrop, the paper proposes a set of policy recommendations aimed at enhancing democracy and strengthening democratic institutions and processes in Africa. Central to these recommendations is the promotion of inclusive governance mechanisms that prioritize citizen participation, accountability, and transparency. Strengthening the rule of law, protecting human rights, and combating corruption are identified as critical components of efforts to build trust in political systems and foster social cohesion.

Furthermore, investing in conflict prevention, peace building, and post-conflict reconstruction is essential for addressing the root causes of insecurity and promoting long-term stability.

The paper also underscores the importance of regional cooperation and collaboration in advancing democratic governance agendas across Africa. Regional institutions such as the African Union (AU) and sub-regional organizations play a pivotal role in promoting democratic norms, facilitating dialogue, and mediating conflicts. Leveraging their collective strengths and resources can enhance the effectiveness of democratization efforts and promote synergy in addressing common challenges.

In conclusion, democratizing Africa requires a multifaceted approach that addresses the complex interplay of populist dynamics, institutional weaknesses, and security threats. By embracing inclusive governance, strengthening democratic institutions, and fostering regional cooperation, African nations can chart a path towards sustainable development, peace, and prosperity. The policy recommendations outlined in this paper aim to provide actionable strategies for policymakers, civil society actors, and international partners committed to advancing democracy and stability on the continent.

Keywords: Democratizing, Africa, populist trends, building trust, governance.

Taming the Lion: On the Conditions of Possibility of a Progressive Populism in Sub-Saharan Africa

Dr. Sergiu Mișcoiu is a Romanian researcher and Professor of Political Science at the Faculty of European Studies, Babeș-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca. He also serves as the Director of the Center on International Cooperation and the Director of the Centre for African Studies (Cestaf) at Babeș-Bolyai University. Additionally, he is a permanent member of the Political Studies Institute at the University of Paris-Est (LIPHA), where he has been a PhD tutor since 2010 and an associate professor since 2007. Over the course of his career, he has authored four books, edited or co-edited 20 volumes, and contributed chapters to 61 collective volumes and 56 scientific articles. Dr. Mișcoiu holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Paris-East Marne-la-Vallée, another PhD in History from Babes-Bolyai University, and a habilitation in Political Science from the University of Paris-East. He has served as a guest professor at several universities, including those in Nantes and Bordeaux (France), Warwick (UK), Bogota (Colombia), Marrakesh (Morocco), Yaoundé (Cameroon), Dakar (Senegal), and Abomey-Calavi (Benin), where he co-founded the country’s first PhD School in Political Science in 2017. He has received numerous awards for his academic achievements, including the Paris Thesis Prize in 2007, the Annual Research Prize of UBB in 2015 and 2020, and the Ordre des Palmes académiques from the French Government in 2012.

Abstract: If following Ernesto Laclau, Chantal Mouffe or Jacques Rancière we believe that the essence of politics is the fundamental and insurmountable disagreement about the values to be enforced in society, we should accept that populism is based on an essentialized construction of the collective identity of the people that it opposes to a denounced elitist establishment, as the latter has supposedly no common measure with the first. Consequently, populism targets radical change and the instauration of a better new order.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, populism has been historically equivalated with the contestation of the neocolonial elite-based regimes by parties, movements and platforms claiming the achievement of a full national popular sovereignty. However, these populist movements have been themselves deeply affected by the autocratic or totalitarian penchant of their leaders, impregnated by the adoption of the USSR-inspired Marxism-Leninism and/or of the reactionary identitarian ethnocentricity, the latter trend being much more salient than the first after the failed wave of democratization of the early 1990s.

Under these circumstances, it is legitimate to ask ourselves if a progressive (emancipatory, liberal-democratic and universalist) populism is possible in Sub-Saharan Africa. What would be its articulatory form and discursive content? Where would its main proponents emerge from? And what would be its public? I will try to formulate some inevitably partial answers to these questions based on a qualitative field research consisting in 89 interviews and two focus-groups organized with Sub-Saharan African citizens. 

Populism and The Challenges of Democratic Governance in Africa

Dr. Edouard Epiphane Yogo is a political scientist specializing in international relations and strategic studies at the University of Yaoundé II. He also teaches at military academies in Cameroon, including the War School, the Staff College in Yaoundé, the Gendarmerie Officers’ School, and the Center for Advanced Techniques in Law Enforcement (CPTMO). With ten scholarly books and over thirty scientific articles to his name, Dr. Yogo is a prominent scholar in his field. Through his teaching, research, and extensive consultations with the United Nations system, he is dedicated to enriching academic, military, and international arenas with valuable perspectives and insights into political science and international relations.

Abstract: Populism is increasingly asserting itself as a significant political force in Africa, thereby confronting the fundamental tenets of democratic governance across the region. This study scrutinizes the distinct challenges that populism poses to democratic governance in Africa, shedding light on its ramifications for both political stability and the efficacy of democratic institutions.

This inquiry amalgamates an exhaustive examination of extant literature on populism in Africa with comprehensive case studies conducted in multiple countries within the region. Methodologically, data is garnered from a spectrum of sources, including academic documents, governmental publications, and conducted semi-structured interviews with experts in African political affairs.

The discerned outcomes elucidate that populism in Africa engenders pivotal challenges for democratic governance, encompassing political polarization, the enfeeblement of democratic institutions and the constricting arena for political pluralism and civic engagement. Notably, populist leaders often exploit prevailing social and ethnic schisms to fortify their grip on power, thus impinging upon the legitimacy of democratic processes.

This research emphatically underscores the imperative of fortifying democratic institutions and fostering inclusive dialogue as the panacea to address the multifaceted challenges engendered by populism in Africa. Essential to this endeavor are political and institutional reforms geared towards fostering transparency, accountability, and equitable representation, while concurrently safeguarding the sanctity of fundamental rights and civil liberties.

It concludes that populism emerges as a formidable impediment to democratic governance in Africa, necessitating strategic and concerted responses from political stakeholders, democratic institutions, and civil society cohorts alike. A comprehensive approach is indispensable to fortify the resilience of democratic frameworks vis-à-vis the exigencies posed by populist tendencies, thereby buttressing the legitimacy of political processes throughout the region.

Keywords: Populism, Africa, democratic governance, challenges, implications.

Populist Discourse and the Proliferation of Hate During Elections in Central African Sub-region

Dr. Kinang Derick Fai is a Political Scientist, Jurist, Conflict Resolution Specialist, and Crime Expert specializing in Human Rights and Economic Intelligence with the Cameroon National Council of Crime Experts. He earned his PhD in International Relations and Conflict Resolution from the University of Buea. He is the founder and research lead of several organizations focusing on hate crime and diversity. Since 2020, he has served as the Project Associate for #defyhatenow, an anti-hate speech campaign in Kenya, Uganda, and Sudan. Additionally, he is the Founder of Humanity for Peace Education and Digitalization (HUPED) and a Co-founder of Civic Watch. With a keen interest in Conflict of Diversity, Human Rights Violations, and War Crimes, Dr. Fai works with a dynamic team dedicated to mitigating hate speech, incitement to violence, misinformation, and crime both online and offline.

Abstract: With the different waves of populism experienced by Africa from the colonial era to the advent of multiparty politics in the early 1990s. This period, to date, characterised by the quest to conquer, exercise, and transmit power through elections, has been plagued by a wide spread of hate, a political strategy to conquer power within the electoral market by populist leaders. With examples like Yoweri Museveni speaking volumes, populism discourse espouses with the complicity of the media contributes to the proliferation of hate to change the status quo as they leverage on the people waging a moral battle against elites to achieve set objectives. It is against the backdrop of this existential reality that this study seeks to examine the use of hate rhetoric through the vilification of vulnerable out-groups as a political strategy by populist leaders to conquer power, thus contributing to its proliferation compounded by related social scourges. In this study, we argue hateful communication framing the political class, excluding and categorising them as enemies of the res publica is a political strategy used by populist leaders to conquer power, thus leading to its upsurge. The study argues such practices produce long-term deleterious ramifications responsible for bad governance, destruction of state unity and social cohesion, flaming of hate tendencies and the fuelling of tensions that breed violent armed conflict when they go uncontrolled. This brings to light the need for increased reforms that promote justice and strong institutions, a saint democratic culture and a critical mass that can check the excesses of politicians and make informed choices in times of elections, especially in the Central African Sub-region.

Keywords: Populism discourse, hate, elections.

The Protection of Female Rights and the Rise of Populism in African Democracies: A Need for a Reformed Society

Dr. Ama-Ambo Chefor is a senior lecturer at the University of Dschang, Cameroon, Faculty of Law and Political Science at the Department of English Law. She is a specialist in maritime criminality and security in the Gulf of Guinea. Dr. Chefor obtained her PhD in English Law at the University of Dschang in 2019. She served as the interim Dean at the School of Law and a lecturer at the School of Maritime, Transport and Logistics at the National Polytechnic University of Bamenda, Cameroon, where she dispensed several courses at the postgraduate and the undergraduate school. She supervises theses on maritime-related issues, politics and the rule of law, criminal law, human trafficking, property rights, employment law and international public Law. She published widely on maritime security, politics and the rule of law. 

Abstract: The rule of law, and democracy are key components of every society as they make provision for values such as the freedom of expression necessary for a society to function successfully. Considering no society can function without democracy, there is, therefore, the need to protect the law’s fundamental human rights, most especially female rights. Sadly, the rise of populism is not just a major challenge to human rights but a threat to democracy, leading to democratic crises and insecurities ranging from economic to ontological. The risk of populism represents a threat to constitutional democracy and the rule of law. Not only so, but populist governments are also a threat to the international legal order and the authority of international legal agreements. This destabilization can be seen in democratic societies like the United States and within African societies like Cameroon. Consequently, women experience a violation of their human rights such as the right to freedom of expression. There is, therefore, the need to reform the democratic values of society just as it has been respected in every protected democracy in every state of law

Keywords: Populism, democracy; rule of law, female rights.


Photo: Shutterstock.

Mapping Global Populism — Panel XII: Populist Authoritarianism in China – National and Global Perspectives

Date/Time: Thursday, April 25, 2024 — 10:00-12:00 (CET)

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Dr. Rune Steenberg

(Anthropologist Researching Uyghurs and Central Asia, Principal Investigator at Palacký University Olomouc).


“Who Are the People, Populist Articulation of the People in Contemporary China,” by Dr. Kun He (Postdoctoral Researcher at the Computational Linguistics Group within the University of Groningen).

Religion with Chinese Characteristics – Regulating Religions under Xi Jinping,” by Dr. Martin Lavička (Visiting Research Fellow at the Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies, Lund University).

“Unveiling China’s ‘Global Populism’: Sharp Power Politics Along the Belt and Road Initiative,” by Dr. Ibrahim Ozturk (Professor of Economy and visiting fellow at the University of Duisburg-Essen).

The Expanding Reach of China’s Authoritarian Influence: Shaping a New Illiberal Digital Order,” by Dr. Yung-Yung Chang (Assistant Professor at Asia-Pacific Regional Studies, National Dong Hwa University, Hualien, Taiwan). 


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Brief Biographies and Abstracts

Dr. Rune Steenberg is an anthropologist researching the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and Uyghurs. He has conducted extensive fieldwork in Xinjiang, Central Asia, China, and Indonesia and has published widely on topics ranging from kinship to cross-border trade, narratives, and mass incarceration. Rune received his PhD from Freie Universität Berlin in 2014 and is currently a researcher at Palacky University Olomouc. Since 2018, he has also worked as a Uyghur interpreter for asylum seekers, activists, journalists, and human rights organisations, and has participated in producing several documentary films on the tragedies in Xinjiang. 

Who Are the People, Populist Articulation of the People in Contemporary China

Dr. Kun He is a postdoctoral researcher in the Computational Linguistic Group of the University of Groningen. His academic journey has been characterized by an interdisciplinary approach, encompassing fields such as populism, humane AI, media and communication studies, and computational social science. Presently, his research mainly focuses on three main areas: Populist multimodal and multiplatform communication (PhD project), particularly in the context of Chinese populism; the exploration of humane AI (postdoc project), emphasizing human-AI interaction, AI ethics and the geopolitics of AI; and the study of visual disinformation. All his research activities are conducted within the framework of computational social science, applying computational methods to analyze extensive datasets.
Abstract: Discerning what populists mean by the people is crucial for understanding populism. However, the appeals populists make to the people differ across political systems, with distinctions particularly evident between democratic contexts and one-party states such as China. Articulations of the people in Chinese populist communication remain underexplored, which is a gap this paper addresses by clarifying how the people is constructed in the discourses that underpin Chinese populism. A total of 61 populism cases were examined through discourse and meta-analyses, from which three manifestations of the people emerged. First, the Chinese nation serves as an ideological glue to mobilize people to protest against those seen as betraying their Chinese identity or violating the sovereignty and dignity of China. Second, the mass is associated with an affective aversion to scientists and experts, but also with mass support for a satirical subculture that challenges the hegemony of elite-dominated cultural production and cultural institutions. Finally, socially vulnerable groups assemble powerless people in situations of economic impoverishment, political marginalization, and social vulnerability. The analysis reveals how these three conceptualizations of the people drive online Chinese bottom-up populism, allowing netizens to serve as mediators and pitting the people against corrupt elites and the establishment.

Religion with Chinese Characteristics – Regulating Religions under Xi Jinping

Dr. Martin Lavička studied Chinese and Japanese philology (BA), International Relations (MA), and Political Science (Ph.D.). He is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Asian Studies at Palacký University Olomouc, Czech Republic, teaching courses about modern Chinese history, Taiwan history, and Chinese politics. His research focuses on the socio-legal aspects of China’s ethnic policies, religious freedoms, and the rule of law. He is a visiting research fellow at the Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies at Lund University, Sweden, working on his two-year OP-JAC MSCA-CZ project titled Chinese Conceptualisation of the Rule of Law (CLAW): Challenges for the International Legal Order. 

Abstract: In China, freedom of belief is officially protected by the Constitution and legal documents. However, in practice, the government often restricts religious activity and discriminates against religious minorities. Five major religions have been tolerated but regulated by the Communist Party-led state since the end of the Cultural Revolution. The government regulates religious activity by requiring religious groups to register with the state, approving religious leaders, and monitoring religious activities. Additionally, under the current leadership, religions are increasingly pressured to reflect Chinese characteristics and include, for example, Xi Jinping Thought in their teachings. The Communist Party views religion with suspicion and believes that foreign forces can use it to undermine the government. Therefore, it is the Communist Party’s long-term goal of gradually reducing religion’s role in Chinese society. In recent years, we have witnessed an increasing number of religious restrictions targeting not only Uyghur Muslims, but also increasingly encompassing a wider range of religious practitioners across China. My presentation will address some of these recent policies and laws, examine the so-called “Chinafication” of religions, and show the shrinking space for religious believers in today’s China.

Unveiling China’s ‘Global Populism’: Sharp Power Politics Along the Belt and Road Initiative

Dr. Ibrahim Ozturk is a Professor of Economy and visiting fellow at the University of Duisburg-Essen since 2017. He is studying developmental, institutional, and international economics. His research focuses on the Japanese, Turkish, and Chinese economies. Currently, he is working on emerging hybrid governance models and the rise of populism in the Emerging Market Economies. As a part of that interest, he studies the institutional quality of China’s Modern Silk Road Project /The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), its governance model, and implications for the global system. He also teaches courses on business and entrepreneurship in the Emerging Market Economies, such as BRICS/MINT countries. Email: iozturk@populismstudies.org, https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8069-4721

Abstract: This paper underscores the pressing need to understand the intersection of populism, which is currently being rigorously developed to explain contemporary political divisions worldwide, with the emerging concept of “sharp power politics” (SPP). It argues that as populist governments increasingly lean towards authoritarianism over extended periods, they are prone to engage in international power politics, mainly through SPP. This involves creating new scapegoats and manufacturing national threats to mask internal shortcomings or further consolidate the ruling party’s authority. The paper supports this argument by examining China’s adoption of a robust global populist rhetoric after decades of accommodating economic and political strategies. China strategically employs this rhetoric to exploit weaknesses in the multilateral world order, aiming to expand its influence through initiatives like the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

When Technology Meets Authoritarianism – The Expanding Reach of China’s Authoritarian Influence: Shaping a New Illiberal Digital Order?

Dr. Yung-Yung Chang is an Assistant Professor in the Asia-Pacific Regional Studies Program at the National Dong Hwa University, Taiwan. Her main research interest deals with China’s discourse power in digital governance, regional integration in East Asia, China’s external relations/foreign policy and politics & security of the Indo-Pacific region. She has researched in the UK, Austria, Germany, and Taiwan. She has published in Journal of Chinese Political Science, European Journal of East Asian Studies, Politics & Policy and so on. Her recent publication is ‘China beyond China, establishing a digital order with Chinese characteristics. China’s growing discursive power and the Digital Silk Road.’

Abstract: In recent years, China has emerged as a prominent figure in the global digital arena, exerting its authoritarian influence far beyond its territorial borders. This presentation examines China’s role as a surveillance dictatorship and technological pioneer in shaping a burgeoning authoritarian digital order.

The focus of the presentation is to analyze how China’s digital authoritarian practices are spreading and gaining traction abroad, reshaping the global landscape of digital repression and control, and challenging conventional notions of digital freedom and democracy.

The presentation will begin by scrutinizing the ongoing debate surrounding the impact of digital technology on authoritarian governance. Following this, the presentation elucidates key concepts such as digital authoritarianism, digital order, state capacity, and legibility to provide a solid foundation for further discussion. It will then pivot to analyze China’s ambitious national strategy aimed at establishing itself as a dominant cyber power, while also examining its trajectory toward becoming a burgeoning surveillance state.

Empirically, the presentation will utilize the Digital Silk Road as a case study to demonstrate how the CCP strategically employs digital infrastructure projects to propagate its high-tech, surveillance-oriented model on a global scale, thereby offering a blueprint for international emulation.

Prabowo Subianto gives a speech about the vision and mission of the 2019 Indonesian presidential candidate in front of a crowd of supporters on the campaign in Yogyakarta, Indonesia on April 8, 2019. Photo: Aidil Akbar.

International Conference on Populisms, Digital Technologies, and the 2024 Elections in Indonesia

Venue/Date: Deakin University, Australia / April 17-18, 2024.


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Deakin University, in collaboration with the European Center for Populism Studies (ECPS), Universitas Indonesia, and Universitas Gadjah Mada, is organizing “The International Conference: Populisms, Digital Technologies, and the 2024 Elections in Indonesia.” This event, scheduled shortly after the simultaneous multi-level elections in February, will be hosted by the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalization (ADI), providing a crucial platform to explore various aspects and dynamics of populism in Indonesia. The conference’s scope extends beyond electoral outcomes to encompass the intricate interplay between populism, digital technologies, artificial intelligence, disinformation, religion, collective emotions, and socio-political factors that shape Indonesia’s democratic discourse.

Over the course of two intense days, the conference will feature comprehensive discussions spanning 31 papers organized into eight thought-provoking panels. These panels will address distinct facets of Indonesia’s populisms, ranging from Gender and Youth to Populist Strategy and Communication, and from the complexities of Sharp Power, Disinformation, and Cancel Culture to the nuances of Authoritarianism and Islamist Populism. The diversity of topics underscores the breadth and depth of issues that this conference endeavors to explore.

In addition to paper presentations, the conference will also host two distinguished keynote speakers: Professor Simon Tormey, a renowned authority on populism theory with over a decade of scholarly contribution, and Professor Vedi Hadiz, a seasoned scholar specializing in Islamic populism within the Indonesian context. Their insights will enrich understanding and stimulate critical dialogue throughout and after the conference.

The timely conference is made possible thanks to the generous funding provided by the Australian Research Council (ARC), the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalization (ADI), and the European Center for Populism Studies (ECPS).

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Locals walking in front of a big statue in Pyongyang, North Korea on August 15, 2016. Photo: L.M. Spencer.

Mapping Global Populism — Panel #11: Forces Shaping Populism, Authoritarianism and Democracy in South Korea, North Korea and Mongolia

Date/Time: Thursday, March 28, 2024 — 10:00-12:15 (CET)


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(Associate Professor in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations at University of Cambridge).


“Discourse Regimes and Liberal Vehemence,” by Dr. Joseph Yi (Associate Professor of Political Science at Hanyang University, Seoul).

“Foreign Threat Perceptions in South Korean Campaign Discourse: Japan, North Korea and China,” by Dr. Meredith Rose Shaw (Associate Professor, Institute of Social Science, The University of Tokyo).

“Transformation of Populist Emotion in Korean Politics from 2016 to 2024,” by Dr. Sang-Jin Han (Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Seoul National University). 

“Nationalism and Resilience of Authoritarian Rule in North Korea,” by Dr. Junhyoung Lee (Research Professor in the School of International Relations at the University of Ulsan, South Korea).

“Populist Nationalism as a Challenge to Democratic Stability in Mongolia,” by Dr. Mina Sumaadii (Senior Researcher at the Sant Maral Foundation, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia).


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Brief Biographies and Abstracts

Dr. John Nilsson-Wright is an Associate Professor in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations at Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge. In addition to his positions at Cambridge, Dr Nilsson-Wright has also been Senior Research Fellow for Northeast Asia and Korea Foundation Fellow at the Asia Programme at Chatham House which he previously directed as Head of Programme from March 2014 to October 2016. He has been a Monbusho research fellow at Kyoto and Tokyo universities, and a visiting fellow at Tohoku University, Yonsei University, Korea University, and Seoul National University. He has also been a member of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Agenda Council (GAC) on Korea, the UK-Korea Forum for the Future, and he is a director of the UK-Japan 21st Century Group. In 2014 he was a recipient of the Nakasone Yasuhiro Prize. Dr. Nilsson-Wright’s recent work has continued to concentrate on the Cold War relationship between the United States and Northeast Asia, with particular reference to the security and political relationships between the United States and Japan and the two Koreas but has expanded to include contemporary regional security issues and political change.

Discourse Regimes and Liberal Vehemence

Dr. Joseph Yi is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Hanyang University in Seoul. He earned his B.A. from U.C. Berkeley and his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Chicago. Dr. Yi’s research focuses on diversity, civil society, and liberal democracy, particularly in North America and East Asia. In 2016, he was selected as one of the top 23 “Excellent Researchers” at Hanyang University, one of only two professors from the Social Sciences.

Abstract: IR theory predicts stable, cooperative relations among liberal-democracies, which respect individual rights, and often vehement relations between liberal and nonliberal states. However, the ruling elites in some established democracies express strong animosity against that of other democracies. To explain, democratic polities increasingly diverge on speech rules and norms (discourse regimes), and such divergence fosters mutual animus (Doyle’s ‘vehemence’). The ruling elites in one discourse regime view that in another as allowing or committing violations of individual rights. They also access different information, as ‘victim-rights’ (VR)-oriented media report selective information that does not offend victimized groups. Information divergence is heightened when one polity follows a VR-hegemonic regime that comprehensively restricts harmful discourse. In Europe and North America, elites from diverging discourse regimes (e.g., California/Florida, Germany/Hungary) frame each other as illiberal. Until recently, animus was particularly severe between South Korea and Japan, with sharply diverging discourse regimes on the colonial past (e.g., comfort women). 

Foreign Threat Perceptions in South Korean Campaign Discourse: Japan, North Korea and China

Dr. Meredith Shaw is an Associate Professor in the Institute of Social Science at the University of Tokyo and the managing editor of Social Science Japan Journal. Her work, which has been supported by grants from the Fulbright Foundation and the Korea Foundation, examines cultural politics and state efforts to manipulate culture in East Asia. Her research has been published in Journal of Conflict ResolutionThe Pacific Review, and Journal of East Asian Studies, and she has also written for The National InterestGlobal Asia and The Diplomat. Dr. Shaw worked for several years as a research assistant and translator at the Korea Institute for National Unification before obtaining a Ph.D. in Political Science and International Relations from University of Southern California. She was a 2019 Korea-US NextGen Scholar and is in the inaugural cohort of the Mansfield-Luce Asia Scholars Network. Since 2017, she has maintained the North Korean Literature in English blog project (http://dprklit.blogspot.com/).

Abstract: Anti-China sentiment is on the rise in South Korea. Several recent polls have shown China for the first-time surpassing both Japan and North Korea as South Koreans’ most disliked neighbor, a trend that appears particularly strong among young people, exacerbated by Covid-19 and a backlash against Chinese migrants. This trend has potential to disrupt the equilibrium partisan divide on foreign policy which had previously been roughly balanced between anti-Japan left and anti-North Korea right. 

If China policy becomes a mobilizing issue for South Korean voters, one might expect such sentiments to tip the balance toward right-wing populists, simply expanding on existing threat perceptions of communism and North Korea. But upon closer inspection, South Korean “China threat” rhetoric seems to borrow more from the classic anti-Japan rhetoric of the far left, portraying a great power bully that distorts history and appropriates Korean culture, rather than the anti-communist, human rights-centric imagery used by the far right against North Korea. 

Through a discourse analysis of recent anti-China rhetoric in the legislature and on social media, I will examine how the “China threat” discourse is evolving in unique and unanticipated ways within the South Korean context.

Transformation of Populist Emotion in Korean Politics from 2016 to 2024

Dr. Sang-Jin Han is Professor Emeritus at the Department of Sociology at Seoul National University. His research, which often relies on survey data, focuses on the social theory, political sociology, human rights and transitional justice, middle class politics, participatory risk governance, Confucianism and East Asian development. After his retirement, he has been giving lectures as a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Peking University, China. He has lectured as a Visiting Professor at various higher education institutes such as Columbia University in New York, United States, School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences in Paris, France, the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina, and Kyoto University in Japan.
Abstract: This presentation is composed of two parts: historical and empirical. The first is a genealogical overview of populist movement in Korea from the last quarter of the 19th century when the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) faced systemic crises. This initial stage offers a genuine populist emotion characterized by the high distrust to the ruling elites and the self-awakening perception of the common people as the sovereign actor moving forward to a new world. The second stage is related to the Japanese colonial rule (1910-1945), producing a deep-rooted perception of the Korean people as innocent victim and Japan as evil. The third stage is related to the Korean War (1950-1953) reinforcing the exclusionary drive dictated by the emotion of resentment and hostility. The red regime in the north become fully demonized in the south as the United States in the north. The fourth stage is related to the political democratization led by the college students during the 1980s who, as democratic transformer, criticized the accumulation of wealth by a small number of economic conglomerates and the political oligarchy in the circles of elites. They also sharply blamed the United States’ support for the military regimes in South Korea. The fifth stage deals with digitalized populism culminated in such contrasting forms of candlelight vigil and national flag marches in 2006-2007.
The empirical investigation focuses on the relation between populism and democracy on the basis of the analysis of the survey data collected in 2018. Regression and pathway analysis clearly show that the candlelight vigil is internally associated with the primacy of the people, while the national flag march is associated with distrust of elites, and that the national flag orientation supports for a strong authoritarian leader, whereas the candlelight vigil orientation does not. This means that political distrust, as a definitional component of populism, may pose a threat to democracy via manifestation of such populist emotions as hatred, resentment, and antagonism. In contrast, the primacy of the people tends to promote democracy by advocating the active role of the people as the sovereign actor in democratic politics.
Seen from this perspective, the current situation 2024 is alarming since ahead of the general election on April 10, 2024, both the ruling and opposition parties heavily use the populist emotions of hatred and resentment by demonizing the counterpart. The ruling party accuses the opposition party as North Korean followers jeopardizing the security of South Korea, whereas the opposition party accuses the ruling party as Japanese compradors destroying the pride of sovereign nation.  

Nationalism and Resilience of Authoritarian Rule in North Korea

Dr. Junhyoung Lee a research professor in the School of International Relations at the University of Ulsan, specializes in comparative authoritarianism, North Korean politics, and post-communist regimes in East Asia. He earned his Ph.D. from University College Dublin (UCD). X: @leejunhyoung.

Abtsract: In the context of North Korea, nationalism serves as a pivotal instrument for the regime’s survival, intertwining ideological control with authoritarian resilience. This presentation examines the North Korean regime’s historical construction of nationalism, melding familial lineage with national narratives as a mechanism for consolidating power. It scrutinizes the interplay between nationalism and the durability of authoritarian governance in North Korea, drawing upon unstructured data from the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) regarding nationalistic rhetoric and the higher rank politburo visit of sites emblematic of nationalism. The accentuation of nationalism has notably intensified in frequency, especially under the Kim Jong Un’s rule in 2011. Nevertheless, from a proportional perspective, this emphasis forms part of a multifaceted strategy of legitimacy, intertwining nationalistic rhetoric with assertions of economic prowess to underscore the regime’s resilience. It is at this critical intersection that the constraints of nationalism become apparent, particularly in bolstering the resilience of authoritarian governance in the absence of economic fulfilment. This presentation offers insights into the complexities of authoritarian resilience and the function of nationalism in contemporary North Korean society.

Populist Nationalism as a Challenge to Democratic Stability in Mongolia

Dr. Mina Sumaadii is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the School of International Studies, Sichuan University. She is also a Senior Researcher at the Sant Maral Foundation (SMF), one of the leading polling institutions in Mongolia. During her time at the foundation, she worked on numerous national and cross-national surveys, including Gallup World Poll and World Justice Project. Her major research interests are in democratization, Chinese and Russian foreign policies, research methods, and international development.  

Abstract: After Mongolia started its democratic transition, the transitional recession lasted throughout the 1990s. Then in the 2000s the government started to develop its resources sector and chose mining based economic development. By 2010s this has brought unprecedented wealth with a variety of foreign investors. Nonetheless, as quickly as the wealth appeared, it plummeted. Analysts link it to weak institutions of control and an underdeveloped legal framework. These shortcomings were linked to some of the biggest allegations of corruption and related scandals in the next decade. At the same time some of the politicians resorted to populism as an electoral strategy. This study addresses two types of populism found in Mongolia – populist nationalism and populist resource nationalism.  


The Third Annual International Symposium on “The Future of Multilateralism Between Multipolarity and Populists in Power”

Virtual Symposium by European Center for Populism Studies (ECPS), Brussels/Belgium.

March 19-20, 2024

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Day I (March 19, 2024)

13:00–17:00 (Central European Time)


Opening Speech

Irina VON WIESE (Honorary President of the ECPS).


Keynote Speech

Moderator: Dr. Simon P. WATMOUGH (Non-Resident Fellow in the Authoritarianism Research Program at ECPS).

“The Implications of Rising Multipolarity for Authoritarian Populist Governance, Multilateralism, and the Nature of New Globalization,” by Dr. Barrie AXFORD (Professor Emeritus in Politics, Centre for Global Politics Economy and Society (GPES), School of Social Sciences and Law, Oxford Brookes University).


Panel -I-

Interactions Between Multilateralism, Multi-Order World, and Populism

14:00-15:30 (Central European Time)

Moderator: Dr. Albena AZMANOVA (Professor, Chair in Political and Social Science, Department of Politics and International Relations and Brussels School of International Studies, University of Kent).

“Reimagining Global Economic Governance and the State of the Global Governance,” by Dr. Stewart PATRICK (Senior Fellow and Director, Global Order and Institutions Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace).

“The World System: Another Phase of Structural Deglobalization? A Comparative Perspective with the Former Episode of Deglobalization in the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries,” by Dr. Chris CHASE-DUNN (Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Director of the Institute for Research on World-Systems, University of California, Riverside).

“Multipolarity and a post-Ukraine War New World Order: The Rise of Populism,” by Dr. Viktor JAKUPEC (Hon. Professor of International Development, Faculty of Art and Education, Deakin University, Australia; Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences, Potsdam University, Germany).


Panel -II-

The Future of Democracy Between Resilience & Decline

15:30-17:00 (Central European Time)

Moderator: Dr. Nora FISHER-ONAR (Associate Professor of International Studies at the University of San Francisco).

“Global Trends for Democracy and Autocracy: On the Third Wave of Autocratization and the Cases of Democratic Reversals,” by Dr. Marina NORD (Postdoctoral Research Fellow at V-Dem Institute, University of Gothenburg).

“Resilience of Democracies Against the Authoritarian Populism,” by Dr. Kurt WEYLAND (Mike Hogg Professor in Liberal Arts, Department of Government University of Texas at Austin).

“The Impact of Populist Authoritarian Politics on the Future Course of Globalization, Economics, the Rule of Law and Human Rights,” by Dr. James BACCHUS (Distinguished Professor of Global Affairs; Director of the Center for Global Economic and Environmental Opportunity, School of Politics, Security, and International Affairs, University of Central Florida, Former Chairman of the WTO Appellate Body).


Day II (March 20, 2024)

13:00-17:30 (Central European Time)


Keynote Speech

“How Globalization, under Neoliberal Auspices, Has Stimulated Right-wing Populism and What Might Be Done to Arrest That Tendency?” by Dr. Robert KUTTNER (Meyer and Ida Kirstein Professor in Social Planning and Administration at Brandeis University’s Heller School, Co-Founder and Co-Editor of The American Prospect).


Panel -III-

Globalization in Transition

14:00-15:30 (Central European Time)

Moderator: Dr. Anna SHPAKOVSKAYA (Postdoctoral Research Fellow, China Research Analyst at Institute of East Asian Studies, Duisburg-Essen University).

“China’s Appeal to Populist Leaders: A Friend in Need is a Friend Indeed,” by Dr. Steven R. DAVID (Professor of Political Science at The Johns Hopkins University).

“Belt and Road Initiative: China’s Vision for Globalization?” by Dr. Jinghan ZENG (Professor of China and International Studies at Lancaster University).

“Predicting the Nature of the Next Generation Globalization under China, Multipolarity, and Authoritarian Populism” by Humphrey HAWKSLEY (Author, Commentator and Broadcaster). 

Special Commentator Dr. Ho Tze Ern BENJAMIN (Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, Coordinator at the China Program, and International Relations Program).


Panel -IV-

Economic Implications of Rising Populism and Multipolarity

15:30-17:00 (Central European Time)

Moderator: Dr. Patrick HOLDEN (Associate Professor in International Relations at School of Society and Culture, University of Plymouth).

“Demise of Multilateralism and Politicization of International Trade Relations and the Multilateral Trading System,” by Dr. Giorgio SACERDOTI (Professor of Law, Bocconi University; Former Chairman of the WTO Appellate Body).

“China Under Xi Jinping: Testing the Limits at a Time of Power Transition,” by Dr. Alicia GARCIA-HERRERO (Chief Economist for Asia Pacific at Natixis).

“From Populism to Authoritarianism: Unraveling the Process, Identifying Conditions, and Exploring Preventive Measures,” by Dr. Paul D. KENNY (Professor of Political Science at Australian Catholic University).


Closing Remarks

17:00-17:15 (Central European Time)

Dr. Cengiz AKTAR (Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Athens and ECPS Advisory Board Member).


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Brief Bios and Abstracts

Opening Speech

Irina von Wiese, Honorary President of ECPS, was born in Germany, the daughter and granddaughter of Polish and Russian refugees. After completing her law studies in Cologne, Geneva and Munich, she obtained a scholarship to study at the Harvard Kennedy School where she gained a Master in Public Administration. Her subsequent legal training took her to Berlin, Brussels and Bangkok, and gave her a first insight into the plight of refugees and civil rights defenders across the globe. 

From 1997 to 2019, Irina lived and worked as a lawyer in private and public sector positions in London. During this time, she volunteered for human rights organisations, advising on migration policy and hosting refugees in her home for many years.

In 2019, Irina was elected to represent UK Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament. She served as Vice Chair of the Human Rights Subcommittee and as a member of the cross-party Working Group on Responsible Business Conduct. The Group’s main achievement was the introduction of EU legislation to make human rights due diligence mandatory in global supply chains. During her term, she was also elected to the Executive Committee of the European Endowment for Democracy, whose task is to support grassroots civil society initiatives in fragile democracies.

Having lost her seat in the European Parliament after the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, Irina returned to the UK, where she was elected to the Council of Southwark, one of London’s most diverse boroughs. Her links to Brussels are maintained through an advisory role at FGS Global, where she works on EU law and ESG issues. In addition, Irina is an Affiliate Professor at European business school, the ESCP, teaching international law and politics (including a course entitled ‘Liberalism and Populism’).

Irina is the proud mother of a teenage daughter.

Keynote Speech

Moderator Simon P. Watmough is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Leipzig in Germany and a non-resident research fellow in the research program on authoritarianism at ECPS. He was awarded his Ph.D. from the European University Institute in April 2017 with a dissertation titled “Democracy in the Shadow of the Deep State: Guardian Hybrid Regimes in Turkey and Thailand.” Dr. Watmough’s research interests sit at the intersection of global and comparative politics and include varieties of post-authoritarian states, the political sociology of the state, the role of the military in regime change, and the foreign policy of post-authoritarian states in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. 

His work has been published in Politics, Religion & IdeologyUrban Studies and Turkish Review. Since 2005, Dr. Watmough has taught international relations, diplomacy, foreign policy, and security studies, as well as Middle Eastern history at universities in Australia and Europe. In 2010–11 he was a research fellow at the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE) at the London School of Economics. He has held Visiting Scholar positions at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul (2012), the University of Queensland (2013), Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand (2014) and the University of Graz (2017). In addition to his academic publications, he is also a regular contributor to The Conversation and other media outlets.

The Implications of Rising Multipolarity for Authoritarian Populist Governance, Multilateralism, and the Nature of New Globalization

Dr. Barrie Axford is professor emeritus in political science at Oxford Brookes University (UK), where he was founding  Director of the Centre for Global Politics, Economy and Society (GPES) and Head of the Department of International Relations, Politics and Sociology (IRPOSO). He has been Visiting Professor/Fellow/Academic at the Universities of Genoa, California (Santa Barbara), Warwick and the Middle Eastern Technical University (METU), Ankara. He serves on the International Editorial Boards of the journals Globalizations and Telematics and Informatics and is Senior Research Associate at the consultancy Oxford XX1. He is Honorary President of the Global Studies Association (UK and Europe). His books include The Global System: Economics , Politics and Culture; New Media and Politics (with Richard Huggins); Theories of Globalization; The World-Making Power of New Media: Mere Connection? and Populism vs the New Globalization. His work has been translated into ten languages.
Abstract: What is it about the current phase of globalization that feeds and is fed by the populist zeitgeist? In what follows I will tie the discussion of populism to the changing character of globalization, sometimes called the “new” globalization, though that label does less than justice to the overlapping nature of historical globalizations. The “new” globalization is both a description of the de-centered and multi-polar constitution of globality today and a reflex to safeguard against the roils of an ever more connected and turbulent world. It is a reminder that globalization has always been a multidimensional and contradictory process, moving to no single constitutive logic, and historical variable. The new globalization is the context for the current populist surge and, in turn, that surge is testimony to its emergence as a serious political force, perhaps as an embedded global script. In the same context the much-rehearsed failures of multilateralism are set against a burgeoning multipolarity which are themselves expressions of the changing face of political modernity. 

Panel I: Interactions Between Multilateralism, Multi-Order World, and Populism

Moderator Dr. Albena Azmanova is Professor of Political and Social Science at the University of Kent and Honorary Fellow at the Institute for Global Sustainable Development, University of Warwick, and Senior Fellow at OSUN Economic Democracy Initiative, Bard College. In her latest book,Capitalism on Edge (Columbia University Press, 2020) she identifies ubiquitous precarity as the overarching social harm of our times that is at the root of the far-right insurgencies. The book has received numerous awards, among which is the Michael Harrington Award, with which the American Political Science Association “recognizes an outstanding book that demonstrates how scholarship can be used in the struggle for a better world.” Professor Azmanova has held academic positions at the New School for Social Research in New York, Sciences Po. Paris, Harvard University, the University of California Berkeley and the University of Kent’s Brussels School of International Studies. Her writing is animated by her political activism. She participated in the dissident movements that brought down the communist regime in her native Bulgaria in 1987-1990. She has worked as a policy advisor for a number of international organisations, most recently, as a member of the Independent Commission for Sustainable Equality to the European Parliament and as consultant to the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (see Azmanova, A and B. Howard, Binding the Guardian: On the European Commission’s Failure to Safeguard the Rule of Law [2021]). Professor Azmanova is co-founder and co-Editor in Chief of Emancipations: a Journal of Critical Social Analysis.

Reimagining Global Economic Governance and the State of the Global Governance

Dr. Stewart Patrick is senior fellow and director of the Global Order and Institutions Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. His primary areas of research focus are the shifting foundations of world order, the future of American internationalism, and the requirements for effective multilateral cooperation on transnational challenges. He is particularly interested in the international governance dilemmas posed by emerging  technologies, the planetary ecological crisis, and growing competition in the global commons, including the oceans and outer space.

An expert in the history and practice of multilateralism, Patrick is the author of three books, including The Sovereignty Wars: Reconciling America with the World; Weak Links: Fragile States, Global Threats, and International Security; and The Best Laid Plans: The Origins of American Multilateralism and the Dawn of the Cold War. He has written hundreds of articles, essays, chapters, and reports on problems of world order, U.S. global engagement, the United Nations and other international organizations, and the management of global issues.

A member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Patrick has served on the policy planning staff at the U.S. Department of State. He helped establish the Council of Councils, a global think tank network, and served on the steering committee of the Paris Peace Forum. He appears regularly as an expert commentator in major media, including television, radio, print, an online.

Abstract: Although world leaders and commentators frequently cite the importance and bemoan the decline of the “rules-based international order,” they seldom specify the rules of conduct they are speaking about, much less who should determine their content. In addition, they rarely identify where global attitudes on rules overlap and diverge or clarify the implications for solving practical problems. This is deeply problematic, since normative contestation—including between East and West, and North and South—is a major driving force behind the crises of multilateralism, global economic fragmentation, and surging populism worldwide.

While the crisis of the rules-based order complicates international cooperation in multiple domains, it is particularly noteworthy in the field of global economic governance. Around the world, states and publics are increasingly turning their back on hyper-globalization but have not yet agreed on a post-neoliberal narrative for the world economy. Many are torn by contradictory impulses: a determination to pull back from, and gain some control over globalization to better advance their domestically defined preferences and reassert domestic sovereignty; and a desire to update existing or create entirely new multilateral frameworks to be more globally representative, better address development needs, and address new cross-border challenges from climate change to pandemic disease to financial instability, including through the provision of global public goods.

Constructing a more equitable, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable world economy will require balancing the domestic and global sides of this equation—no small task in a turbulent era racked by populist politics, geopolitical rivalry, stalled development, lackluster growth, yawning inequality, technological disruption, and a planetary-scale ecological emergency.

Multipolarity and a Post-Ukraine War New World Order: The Rise of Populism

Dr. Viktor Jakupec is Hon. Prof. of International Development, Faculty of Arts and Education, Deakin University, Australia and Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences, Potsdam University, Germany. Throughout his academic career, he was affiliated with several universities in Australia, and as a consultant with international development agencies in MENA, Asian, Balkan, and the Asia-Pacific countries. His most recent publications are “Dynamics of the Ukraine War: Diplomatic Challenges and Geopolitical Uncertainties” (Springer 2024) and “Foreign Aid in a World in Crisis: Shifting Geopolitics in the Neoliberal Era” (co-authored with Max Kelly and John McKay, Routledge 2024). He holds a Dr. phil. From FU Hagen and Dr. phil. habil. from Giessen University.  

Abstract: This presentation explores the increased shifts away from liberal democratic governance towards multipolar populism. It is argued that people in the Global North are losing faith in liberal and neo-liberal governments and political parties. The voters in the Global North are increasingly turning to national populism and governments in the Global South perceive the geo-political and geo-economic global problems caused by the West.

Turning to the current most prevalent geo-political and geo-economic crisis, namely the Russo-Ukraine war as a catalyst for the shift towards populism, it is argued that much is going wrong for the Western Alliances. This includes the emergence of multipolar alliances in opposition to the USA-led alliances, such as BRICS Plus. Against this background, the discussion turns to the nexus of multipolarity and populism. Concurrently, the surge of populism, driven by diverse socio-political factors, has reshaped both domestic politics and multipolarity. Examining the convergence of these forces unveils the complexities in navigating a post-Ukraine War New World Order, presenting both challenges and opportunities for the global community.

Panel II: The Future of Democracy Between Resilience & Decline

Moderator Nora Fisher-Onar is Associate Professor of International Studies at the University of San Francisco and academic coordintor of Middle East Studies. Her research interests include the theory and practice of international relations, comparative politics (Middle East, Europe, Eurasia), foreign policy analysis, political ideologies, gender and history/memory. She is author of Contesting Pluralism(s): Islamism, Liberalism and Nationalism in Turkey (Cambridge University Press, in-press) and lead editor of Istanbul: Living with Difference in a Global City (Rutgers University Press, 2018 with Susan Pearce and E. Fuat Keyman). She has published extensively in scholarly journals like the Journal of Common Market Studies (JCMS), Conflict and Cooperation, Millennium, Theory and Society, Qualitative and Multi-Method Research, Women’s Studies International Forum, and Middle East Studies. Fisher-Onar also contributes policy commentary to fora like Foreign Affairs, the Guardian, OpenDemocracy, and the Washington Post (Monkey Cage blog), as well as for bodies like Brookings, Carnegie, and the German Marshall Fund (GMF). At the GMF, she has served as a Ronald Asmus Fellow, Transatlantic Academy Fellow, and Non-Residential Fellow.

Global Trends for Democracy and Autocracy: On the Third Wave of Autocratization and the Cases of Democratic Reversals

Dr. Marina Nord is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the V-Dem Institute and one of the authors of the Democracy Reports published by the V-Dem Institute. Her research interests cover a broad range of areas pertaining to autocratization / democratic backsliding and democratization processes, with special focus on economic sources of regime (in)stability. She holds a PhD in Political Economy (Hertie School, Berlin), has worked on a number of research projects related to democratic backsliding and economic governance, and is passionate about bridging the gap between academic research and policy domains.

Abstract: This talk will discuss the latest trends for democracy and autocracy in the world and across regions based on the most recent Democracy Report from the V-Dem Institute. Among other things, the speaker will show that 42 countries of the world are now affected by the ongoing wave of autocratization; the level of democracy enjoyed by the average global citizen is down to 1985-levels; less than 30% of people worldwide are now governed democratically; and that autocratization often continues after democratic breakdowns taking countries further into more harsh dictatorships. Rising polarization and disinformation, growing threats on freedom of expression and civil liberties, coupled with shifting balance of economic power make for a worrying picture. At the same time, the speaker will show that historically, almost half of all episodes of autocratization have been eventually turned around. The estimate increases to 70% when focusing on the last 30 years. The vast majority of successful cases of re- democratization eventually lead to restored or even improved levels of democracy. The speaker will also present some important elements uniting the most recent cases of democratic resilience and discuss how they could be critical in stopping and reversing contemporary autocratization.

Resilience of Democracies Against the Authoritarian Populism

Dr. Kurt Weyland is Mike Hogg Professor in Liberal Arts, Department of Government, University of Texas at Austin since September 2014. Professor Weyland’s research interests focus on democratization and authoritarian rule, on social policy and policy diffusion, and on populism in Latin America and Europe. He has drawn on a range of theoretical and methodological approaches, including insights from cognitive psychology, and has done extensive field research in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Peru, and Venezuela. After receiving a Staatsexamen from Johannes-Gutenberg Universitat Mainz in 1984, a M.A. from UT in 1986, and a Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1991, he taught for ten years at Vanderbilt University and joined UT in 2001. He has received research support from the SSRC and NEH and was a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC, in 1999/2000 and at the Kellogg Institute, University of Notre Dame, in 2004/05. From 2001 to 2004, he served as Associate Editor of theLatin American Research Review. He is the author of Democracy without Equity: Failures of Reform in Brazil (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1996), The Politics of Market Reform in Fragile Democracies: Argentina, Brazil, Peru, and Venezuela (Princeton University Press, 2002), Bounded Rationality and Policy Diffusion: Social Sector Reform in Latin America (Princeton University Press, 2007), several book chapters, and many articles in journals such as World Politics, Comparative Politics, Comparative Political Studies, Latin American Research Review, International Studies Quarterly, Journal of Democracy, Foreign Affairs, and Political Research Quarterly. He has also (co-edited two volumes, namely Learning from Foreign Models in Latin American Policy Reform (Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 2004) and, together with Wendy Hunter and Raul Madrid, Leftist Governments in Latin America: Successes and Shortcomings(Cambridge University Press, 2010). His latest book, Making Waves: Democratic Contention in Europe and Latin America since the Revolutions of 1848, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2014.

Abstract: After Trump’s election, many observers depicted populism as a grave threat to democracy. Yet my systematic comparative analysis of thirty populist chief executives in Latin America and Europe over the last four decades shows that democracy usually proves resilient. With their power hunger, populist leaders manage to destroy democracy only under special restrictive conditions, when distinct institutional weaknesses and exceptional conjunctural opportunities coincide. Specifically, left-wing populists can suffocate democracy only when benefitting from huge revenue windfalls, whereas right-wing populists must perform the heroic feat of resolving acute, severe crises. Because many populist chief executives do not face these propitious conditions, they fail to suffocate democracy; indeed, their haphazard governance often leads to their own premature eviction or electoral defeat. Given their institutional strength and their immunity to crises and windfalls, the advanced industrialized countries can withstand populism’s threat; even a second Trump administration is exceedingly unlikely to asphyxiate democracy.

The Impact of Populist Authoritarian Politics on the Future Course of Globalization, Economics, the Rule of Law and Human Rights

Dr. James Bacchus is the Distinguished University Professor of Global Affairs and Director of the Center for Global Economic and Environmental Opportunity at the University of Central Florida (GEEO). He was a founding judge and was twice the Chairman – the chief judge – of the highest court of world trade, the Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization.

Professor Bacchus is a former Member of the Congress of the United States, from Florida, and a former international trade negotiator for the United States. He served on the High-Level Advisory Panel to the Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change during the negotiation of the Paris climate agreement and is on the Leadership Council of the United States chapter of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. He has chaired the global Commission on Trade and Investment Policy of the International Chamber of Commerce and the global council on sustainability governance of the World Economic Forum.

Professor Bacchus is a Visiting Fellow at the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law and at Wolfson College and a member of the Advisory Council at Cambridge Governance Labs of the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. For more than fourteen years, he chaired the global practice of the largest law firm in the United States and one of the largest in the world, Greenberg Traurig.

Professor Bacchus is the author of five well-received books and is currently writing a new book on the relationship between democracy and sustainable development.

Abstract: Populists, as most commentators acknowledge, come to power on the back of relatively free and fair elections. Yet once in office, populists appear to have a deeply ambiguous, if not hostile, relationship with democracy. Some scholars have argued that populism is inherently illiberal, or even authoritarian. Others have defined populism as a kind of half-way house between democracy and dictatorship. At best, however, this approach simply labels rather than explains the problem. When, why, and how do populists become dictators? In fact, the transition from populist rule to full personalist dictatorship is relatively rare. Drawing from my ongoing research on the long-run implications of populist rule, this talk will examine how populists make the transition to dictatorship, and discuss the conditions that make this more likely.

Keynote Speech

Moderator Simon P. Watmough is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Leipzig in Germany and a non-resident research fellow in the research program on authoritarianism at ECPS. He was awarded his Ph.D. from the European University Institute in April 2017 with a dissertation titled “Democracy in the Shadow of the Deep State: Guardian Hybrid Regimes in Turkey and Thailand.” Dr. Watmough’s research interests sit at the intersection of global and comparative politics and include varieties of post-authoritarian states, the political sociology of the state, the role of the military in regime change, and the foreign policy of post-authoritarian states in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. 

His work has been published in Politics, Religion & IdeologyUrban Studies and Turkish Review. Since 2005, Dr. Watmough has taught international relations, diplomacy, foreign policy, and security studies, as well as Middle Eastern history at universities in Australia and Europe. In 2010–11 he was a research fellow at the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE) at the London School of Economics. He has held Visiting Scholar positions at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul (2012), the University of Queensland (2013), Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand (2014) and the University of Graz (2017). In addition to his academic publications, he is also a regular contributor to The Conversation and other media outlets.

How Globalization, under Neoliberal Auspices, Has Stimulated Right-wing Populism and What Might Be Done to Arrest That Tendency?

Robert Kuttner is co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect magazine and Meyer and Ida Kirstein Professor at Brandeis University’s Heller School. He was a longtime columnist for Business Week, the Boston Globe, and the Washington Postsyndicate. He was a co-founder of the Economic Policy Institute and serves on its board and executive committee. 
Kuttner is author of thirteen books, most recently his 2022 book, Going Big: FDR’s Legacy, Biden’s New Deal, and the Struggle to Save DemocracyHis other books include Can Democracy Survive Global Capitalism?(2018) and the 2008 New York Times bestseller, Obama’s Challenge: American’s Economic Crisis and the Power of a Transformative Presidency. His best-known earlier book is Everything for Sale: the Virtues and Limits of Markets (1997), which received a page one review in the New York Times Book Review.
His magazine and journal writing, covering the interplay of economics and politics, has appeared in The Atlantic, Harpers, The New Republic, New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine and Book Review, New York Magazine, Mother Jones, Foreign Affairs, New Statesman, Political Science Quarterly, Columbia Journalism Review, Harvard Business Review, and Challenge.

Kuttner has contributed major articles to The New England Journal of Medicine as a national policy correspondent.  His previous positions have included national staff writer on The Washington Post, chief investigator of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, executive director of the National Commission on Neighborhoods, and economics editor of The New Republic.

He is the winner of the Sidney Hillman Journalism Award (twice), the John Hancock Award for Financial Writing, the Jack London Award for Labor Writing, and the Paul Hoffman Award of the United Nations for his lifetime work on economic efficiency and social justice. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow, Woodrow Wilson Fellow, Demos Fellow, Radcliffe Public Policy Fellow, German Marshall Fund Fellow, Wayne Morse Fellow and John F. Kennedy Fellow.

Robert Kuttner was educated at Oberlin College, The London School of Economics, and the University of California at Berkeley. He holds honorary doctorates from Oberlin and Swarthmore. He has also taught at Boston University, the University of Oregon, University of Massachusetts, and Harvard’s Institute of Politics.  He lives in Boston with his wife, Northeastern University Professor Joan Fitzgerald.

Abstract: What is Populism? The US origins of the term, in the late 19th century. The original populist movement of the 1880s and 1890s had both a progressive economic dinension, as a farmers’ and workers’ protest against econmic concentration, and a white- racist and anti-immigrant dimension. Both elements were present in the People’s Party, which nearly displaced the Democratic Party in 1896 as one of the two major American political parties. The Democratic Party adopted some of the People’s Party’s program and candidates.

Progressive populism, as a popular revolt against extremes of wealth and poverty and corporate abuses, reached its zenith in the US during President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. At the same time, elements of continuing racism in the US reflected reactionary populism.

In Europe, fascism gained ground in the 1920s and 1930s, to a substantial degree because of the failure of European leaders to pursue a post-WWI recovery program and the infliction of austerity economics not just on defeated Germany but on the continent generally. (See J.M. Keynes, Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919), and Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation (1944.) The fascist intellectuals of that era, such as Mussolini’s theorist, Giovanni Gentile (The Doctrine of Fascism, 1932), contended that the democracies were doomed because they could solve neither economic nor political problemas, nor the question of national identity. Fascism was built on extreme nationalism as well as authoritarianism.

For the most part the term populism was not used in that era to describe European fascism.

The Postwar Political and Economic Settlement in Western Europe and the US. After the defeat of the Axis powers, both the fascist far-right and the economic libertarian right had been discredited and marginalized. The victorious powers were of the view that mass unemployment in the 1920s and 1930s has been a substantial cause of fascism and war. No influential political parties in Europe in the postwar era were promoting laissez-faire, much less extreme nationalism or authoritarianism.

The postwar European recovery program and the dominant set of policies in the US blended managed capitalism and social democracy. Most leaders of that period in Continental Europe were Christian Democrats. In Scandinavia and Britain, they were social democrats. As a way of preventing a future European war, they promoted full employment, a welfare state, regulation of capital, and steps towards European union as a way both of containing Germany within a larger European whole, and reducing nationalism. In that era, which was one of recovery and increasing shared prosperity, there was virtually no neo-fascism–what some today would call populism.

In my view, it is a conceptual and semantic mistake to conflate neo-fascism with populism. The former has a clear meaning and clear historical antecedents. The latter can refer to far-right authoritarian movements, or to reformist, pro-democratic left movements. The view that something called “populism” is an anti-democratic virus to be resisted confuses more than it clarifies.

Neoliberalism and the End of the Postwar System. The economic crisis of the 1970s brought neoliberals back to power, politically and intellectually. Unemployment increased. So did economic inequality. In most of the West, the neoliberal program included tax cuts, deregulation, privatization, and a weakening of trade unions. After 1989, the rules of the EU gave priority to free movement of capital, goods, services and people. After 1995, the new World Trade Organization enforced rules of liberal trade worldwide.

In these circumstances, the incomes of ordinary working people stagnated or fell, while the income and wealth of economic elites soared. Nominally center-left parties, such as the Democratic Party in the US, the Labour Party in the UK, and the German SPD, embraced much of the neoliberal program. This convergence meant there was no mainstream opposition party; the only opposition to the centrist consensus was on the far-right or far-left.

The economic crisis that began in 2008 raised unemployment rates. The neoliberal leadership governing the EU and the ECB demanded austerity policies, which prolonged the crisis. In this context, immigration, which was now open throughout the EU, increased. With the worldwide economic downturn, extra-European migration, both legal and illegal, also increased. The mainstream parties had no good solutions.

The worsening economic situation of ordinary working people was in drastic contrast to that of the postwar era when there was full employment, broadly shared prosperity, little immigration, and no support for the neo-fascist right because the system enjoyed broad popular legitimacy.

The Rise of the Neo-fascist Right. In the years after 2008, far-right parties became the largest or second largest parties in much of Europe. In some nations, they have been part of coalition governments. In Turkey, Poland, Hungary, and in the United States under Donald Trump, the neo-fascist right has governed.

These parties and leaders have in common an authoritarian undermining of democracy, the use of anti-foreign and ultra-nationalist themes, and personalist leadership. They tend to be disproportionately supported by working-class voters, who have been the disproportionate losers of neo-liberal globalization. Oddly, nominally center-left parties, are increasingly supported by the educated and the affliuent on the basis of social issues, while far-right parties increasingly win the working class vote.

Is there a Cure? If neoliberal globalization has undermined the economic security of ordinary citizens, what is the alternative? There is definitely a far-right version of economic nationalism, but there is also a more benign version that relies on national economic planning and tighter regulation of trans-national capital to restore more balanced economic opportunities. This would take us back to something like the tacit social contract of the postwar era. (For a detailed description, see Dani Rodrik, The Globalization Paradox, 2011.)

There is more than one form of multilateralism. The multilateral system built after World War II laid the foundations for a mixed economy of broad prosperity, which in turn innoculated the body politic against neo-fascist tendencies. The successor system, beginning in the 1970s and 1980s, returned the economy to extreme insecurity and inequality, eventually stimulating a neo-fascist backlash.

In the United States, President Joe Biden has begun moving public policy back towards  something more like the postwar social compact, with extensive industrial policies to rebuild domestic supply chains and good jobs. These policies do violate some of the rules of the WTO.

Biden has embraced a salutary economic nationalism, but is a strong defender of democracy and is far from a neo-fascist. Biden has also been an ally of a resurgent trade union movement, which uses frankly “populist” rhetoric against rapacious global corporations; but that brand of “populism” seems to be a necessary antidote the appeals of neo-fascism and has nothing in common with it.

Panel III: Globalization in Transition

Moderator Dr. Anna Shpakovskaya is Associate Researcher at the Institute of East Asian Studies at the University of Duisburg-Essen. Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, she spent ten years in Shanghai and the last 14 years in Duisburg. After receiving her PhD in Political Science with Focus on China in 2017, Anna has worked as China Analyst on several international research projects in Germany. She was an Associate Professor at Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main in 2020-2021. Anna also gives regular lectures at Université Paris-Est Créteil in France.

China’s Appeal to Populist Leaders: A Friend in Need is A Friend Indeed

Dr. Steven R. David is a Professor of Political Science and International Relations at The Johns Hopkins University whose work focuses on security studies, the politics of the developing world, American foreign policy, and turmoil in the Middle East. David’s scholarship emphasizes the impact of internal politics on foreign policy, particularly among developing countries. David introduced the theory of “omnibalancing,” which asserted that to understand the foreign policies of developing countries it was necessary not only to consider external threats to the state, but also internal challenges to regime survival.

Abstract: China is aggressively courting populist leaders throughout the world in an effort to spread its influence and rewrite the rules of the Liberal International Order. The theory of omnibalancing does much to explain the tools China employs in this endeavor and explains why it may succeed. Omnibalancing argues that leaders pursue policies to advance their personal interest (and not the national interest) and their most important interest in remaining in power. This is especially the case for populist leaders whose fall from power my also result in imprisonment or death. As such, these leaders will turn to the outside country who is has the will and capacity to keep them in office. Since most of the threats these leaders face are internal, they will align with the state that can best protect them from the domestic threats (coups, revolutions, insurgencies, mass protests, assassinations) they face. China’s toolkit of digital surveillance technologies, indifference to corruption, and sheer economic power makes it increasingly the partner of choice. At the same time, China has significant weaknesses in attracting clients including resentment over exploitative labor practices, undercutting of local businesses, and racism. In order to wean countries away from China’s embrace, the West should not compromise its principles by backing populist leaders, but instead exploit China’s shortcomings while presenting a more attractive model for the citizenry of states under populist rule. Over time, China’s attraction will wane, populist leaders will lose their appeal, and the West will emerge as the patron of choice.

Belt and Road Initiative: China’s Vision for Globalization

Dr. Jinghan Zeng is Professor of China and International Studies at Lancaster University. His current research focuses on China’s AI governance and Belt and Road Initiative. He is the author of several books including Artificial Intelligence with Chinese Characteristics: National Strategy, Security and Authoritarian Governance (2022), Slogan Politics: Understanding Chinese Foreign Policy Concepts (2020) and The Chinese Communist Party’s Capacity to Rule: Ideology, Legitimacy and Party Cohesion (2015). He is also the co-editor of One Belt, One Road, One Story? Towards an EU-China Strategic Narrative (2021).

Professor Zeng has published over thirty refereed articles in leading journals of politics, international relations and area studies including The Pacific Review, International Affairs, JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies, and Third World Quarterly. He has secured funding from a variety of international sources, including the European Commission, Schmidt Futures (US) and Social Science Foundation of China. Professor Zeng’s research has been covered by the journal Science and major media outlets including Financial Times, The Economist, Forbes and South China Morning Post.

Professor Zeng has testified before the UK Parliament and advised United Nations, Cabinet Office (UK) and Foreign & Commonwealth Office (UK). He regularly appears in TV and radio broadcasts including the BBC, ABC Australia, Al Jazeera, Asharq News, China Global Television Network (CGTN) and Voice of America. He has written op-ed articles for The Diplomat, BBC (Chinese), The Conversation, Nikkei Asia, Policy Forum, Korea on Point among others.

At Lancaster University, Professor Zeng also holds the position of Academic Director of China Engagement and serves as the Director of Lancaster University Confucius Institute. Before embarking on his academic career, he worked for the United Nations’ Department of Economic and Social Affairs in New York City. https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/ppr/people/jinghan-zeng

Abstract: As China’s “Project of the Century,” Belt and Road Initiative represents China’s vision for globalization, Belt and Road Initiative is widely considered as a clearly defined top-down grand strategy of Beijing to build a Sino-centric world order. This presentation will discuss why this view is mistaken. By studying domestic dynamics of Belt and Road Initiative, it will provide an indepth analysis over China’s vision for globalization and the concept of “Belt and Road Initiative.”

Predicting the Nature of the Next Generation Globalization under China, Multipolarity, and Authoritarian Populism

Humphrey Hawksley is an author, commentator and broadcaster, former BBC Beijing Bureau Chief and Asia Correspondent. He is Editorial Director of Asian Affairs and host to the monthly Democracy Forum debates. His latest non-fiction book is ‘Asian Waters: The Struggle over the Indo-Pacific and the Challenge to American Power.’ His current Rake Ozenna thriller series is based in the Arctic which he believes is an unfolding theatre of conflict. His earlier works include the ‘Dragon Strike’ future history series based in the Indo-Pacific, and ‘Democracy Kills: What’s So Good About Having the Vote’ which tied in with his television documentary, ‘Danger: Democracy at Work’ examining wider lessons to be drawn from the Iraq intervention. His television and other documentaries include ‘The Curse of Gold and Bitter Sweet’ examining human rights abuse in global trade; ‘Aid Under Scrutiny’ on the failures of international development. His work has appeared in The Guardian,The TimesThe Financial TimesThe New York Times and Nikkei Asia, amongst others.

Abstract: Humphrey Hawksley will argue that the Indo-Pacific lies at the cross-roads between what the West categorises as autocracy and democracy.  Unlike in North America and Europe, the Indo-Pacific is not united by any one political system or culture. Polarising definitions, therefore are unhelpful. There needs to be change of mindset in the West, an understanding of what drives the vision of a China-influenced Indo-Pacific.

Special Commentator

Dr. Ho Tze Ern Benjamin is Assistant Professor at the China Programme, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Singapore. He obtained his PhD from the Department of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science, UK under a RSIS PhD scholarship. He is the author of the book China’s Political Worldview and Chinese Exceptionalism: International Order and Global Leadership (Amsterdam University Press, 2021). He has also published in journals such as China Quarterly, Journal of Contemporary China, East Asia: An International Quarterly, Alternatives: Global, Local, Political, Asia Policy, and the Australian Journal of International Affairs. He was also a Fulbright visiting scholar at the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University between November 2021 and February 2022, and a Taiwan MOFA Fellow between September and December 2022. 

Panel IV: Economic Implications of Rising Populism and Multipolarity

Moderator Dr. Patrick Holden is an Associate Professor (Reader) in International Relations at the School of Law, Criminology and Government at Plymouth University. His work explores the link between power, ideas and public policy. His primary research interests focus on the international relations of the European Union, Brexit, International Political Economy and International Development. Recent academic work of his has been published in journals such as The Journal of Common Market Studies, West European Politics, Development Policy Review, Cooperation and Conflict and The Journal of International Relations and Development. His research involves analysing documents and interviewing policy elites and he has done field work in Brussels, Morocco, Egypt and South Africa amongst other places. His current research projects include exploring the future of international development aid and preparing local communities for Brexit. He is on the editorial board of the journal Mediterranean Politics.

Demise of Multilateralism and Politicization of International Trade Relations and the Multilateral Trading System

Dr. Giorgio Sacerdoti is emeritus professor at Bocconi University where he was professor of International Law and European Law (J. Monnet Chair 2004) from 1986 to 2017, focusing on the law of international economic relations, trade and investment, international contracts and arbitration, on which subjects he has published extensively.  He was a Member of the WTO Appellate Body from 2001 to 2009 and its chairman in 2006-2007. He is on the ICSID Roster of arbitrators and has served frequently as an arbitrator in commercial and investment disputes under BITS and the ECT.

Abstract: In recent years one of the basic tenets of the multilateral trading system established after WWII by the GATT in 1947, confirmed and reinforced by the WTO in 1995, has been threatened by unilateral actions of several of the main State actors, a sign of mounting geopolitical tensions in a multipolar world. That tenet was the ‘depoliticization’ of trade relations (and, similarly, of investments) in the interest of the development of international trade based on cooperation, non-discrimination, reduction of border barriers, fair competition, and consumers’ benefits, with the ultimate aim to reinforce friendly relations beyond borders.

This liberal approach does not exclude the recognition in the GATT/ WTO system of grounds for unilateral control of trade flows in the interest of economic and non-economic national interests, such as through safeguard measures and recourse to exceptions under Article XX GATT for the protection of non-trade values (morality, human health, environment, exhaustible resources), or in case of international emergencies (Article XXI GATT). Recourse to those actions and countermeasures are, however, in case of abuse subject to impartial rule-based evaluation by the WTO dispute settlement system.

Recently, we have witnessed instead a host of unilateral trade-restrictive measure, both at the micro (enterprise) or at macro (sectoral) levels invoking political commercial and non-commercial (security) reasons, introduction of national industrial policies based on subsidies aiming at protecting national industries well beyond the GATT rules. This has destabilized multi-country supply chains and hampered international economic cooperation. Affected countries have in turn reacted with countermeasures in the form of further restrictions. Basic positive aspects of globalization and multilateralism have been under attack, possibly beyond the intent of the individual actors involved.

An increased attention by States to domestic needs is unavoidable and should not be opposed per se nor labeled protectionism or the poisoned fruit of populism. Attention to protecting employment, ensuring national control of the economy through industrial policies, preserving local manufacturing capability (such as in facing pandemics, a situation that has made this tendency more evident) incapsulates, in any case, the current mood towards deglobalization.

This does not require, however, disregarding existing obligations and commitments, paralyzing global institutions such as the WTO, and brushing away the broader imperative of international cooperation in an interdependent world, lest long-term economic ties, beneficial for all, be seriously disrupted. This is exactly what has happened since 2018 due to  policies putting national political objectives first (such as MAGA, workers-centered trade policy, strategic autonomy). This has lead to increased fragmentation of trade relations and supply chains (near- and re-shoring, self-reliance) with dubious benefits to national and global welfare and development.

China Under Xi Jinping: Testing the Limits at a Time of Power Transition

Dr. Alicia García Herrero is the Chief Economist for Asia Pacific at Natixis CIB. She is also an independent Board Member of AGEAS insurance group. Alicia also serves as Senior Fellow at the European think-tank BRUEGEL and as a non-resident Senior Follow at the East Asian Institute (EAI) of the National University Singapore (NUS). Alicia is also Adjunct Professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). Finally, Alicia is and an advisor to the Spanish government on economic affairs, a Member of the Board of the Center for Asia-Pacific Resilience and Innovation (CAPRI), a member of the Advisory Board of the Berlin-based Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS), an advisor to the Hong Kong Monetary Authority’s research arm (HKIMR) and a Member of the Council of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation (FUF). Alicia is very active in international media (such as BBC, Bloomberg, CNBC and CNN) as well as social media (LinkedIn and Twitter). As a recognition of her thought leadership, Alicia was included in the TOP Voices in Economy and Finance by LinkedIn in 2017 and #6 Top Social Media leader by Refinitiv in 2020.

Abtsract: For long we have been discussing the increasingly strong strategic competition between the US and China but cracks in both regimes, as well as the rise of India, have pushed the boundaries towards multilateralism.  At the same time, growing populism is pushing leaders of middle powers to become more independent instead of relying on the two hegemons. This also means that populism is pushing us away from a cold war towards fragmentation of our economic system. How fragmented trade and investment will become with a multipolar world is still to early to tell.

From Populism to Authoritarianism: Unraveling the Process, Identifying Conditions, and Exploring Preventive Measures

Dr. Paul Kenny is Professor and Director of the Political Science Program at the Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences at Australian Catholic University and a Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University. Dr Kenny is the author of three books, Populism and Patronage: Why Populists Win Elections in India, Asia, and Beyond (Oxford University Press, 2017), which won the American Political Science Association’s 2018 Robert A. Dahl Award, Populism in Southeast Asia (Cambridge University Press, 2019), and most recently, Why Populism? Political Strategy from Ancient Greece to the Present (Cambridge University Press, 2023). He has a PhD in political science from Yale University, and degrees in economics and political economy from the London School of Economics and Trinity College Dublin.

Abstract: Populists, as most commentators acknowledge, come to power on the back of relatively free and fair elections. Yet once in office, populists appear to have a deeply ambiguous, if not hostile, relationship with democracy. Some scholars have argued that populism is inherently illiberal, or even authoritarian. Others have defined populism as a kind of half-way house between democracy and dictatorship. At best, however, this approach simply labels rather than explains the problem. When, why, and how do populists become dictators? In fact, the transition from populist rule to full personalist dictatorship is relatively rare. Drawing from my ongoing research on the long-run implications of populist rule, this talk will examine how populists make the transition to dictatorship, and discuss the conditions that make this more likely.

Closing Remarks

Dr. Cengiz Aktar is an adjunct professor of political science at the University of Athens. He is a former director at the United Nations specializing in asylum policies. He is known to be one of the leading advocates of Turkey’s integration into the EU. He was the Chair of European Studies at Bahçeşehir University-Istanbul.

In 1999, he initiated a civil initiative for Istanbul’s candidacy for the title of European Capital of Culture. Istanbul successfully held the title in 2010. He also headed the initiative called “European Movement 2002” which pressured lawmakers to speed up political reforms necessary to begin the negotiation phase with the EU. In December 2008, he developed the idea of an online apology campaign addressed to Armenians and supported by a number of Turkish intellectuals as well as over 32,000 Turkish citizens.

In addition to EU integration policies, Dr. Aktar’s research focuses on the politics of memory regarding ethnic and religious minorities, the history of political centralism, and international refugee law.

Inauguration of Argentinian President Javier Milei in Buenos Aires on December 1, 2023. Photo: Facundo Florit.

ECPS Regional Panel — Old and New Facets of Populism in Latin America

Date/Time: Thursday, March 7, 2024 / 15:00-17:30 CET

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Dr. Maria Puerta Riera

(Adjunct Professor in the Political Science at Valencia College)


“Populism and Socio-Political Transformation in Latin America,” by Dr. Ronaldo Munck (Professor of Sociology and Director of the Centre for Engaged Research at Dublin City University).

“Varieties of Populism and Democratic Erosion: The Case of Latin America,” by Dr. Julio F. Carrión (Professor of Comparative Politics, University of Delaware).

“Global Power Dynamics and Authoritarian Populism in Venezuela,” by Dr. Adriana Boersner-Herrera (Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina).

“Libertarian Populism? Making Sense of Javier Milei’s Discourse,” by Dr. Reinhard Heinisch (Professor of Comparative Politics at the University of Salzburg and Head of the Department of Political Science) and Dr. Andrés Laguna Tapia (Director of the Center for Research in Communication and Humanities and head of Communication Studies at UPB in Cochabamba).

“The Phenomenon of ‘Bolsonarism’ in Brazil: Specificities and Global Connections,” by Dr. Victor de Oliveira Pinto Coelho (Professor of the Human Sciences at Universidade Federal do Maranhão).

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Brief Biographies and Abstracts

Dr. Maria Isabel Puerta Riera is a political scientist with a Ph.D. in Social Sciences. She serves as an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Valencia College and holds the position of Research Fellow at GAPAC. She also chairs the LASA Venezuelan Studies Section and is a proud member of Red de Politólogas. Previously, Dr. Puerta Riera was an Associate Professor and Chair of Public Administration at Universidad de Carabobo in Venezuela. Her research interests are democratic backsliding, hybrid regimes, authoritarianism, illiberalism, populism, and immigration in Latin America. Email: mpuertariera@valenciacollege.edu Website: www.maripuerta.com


Populism and Socio-Political Transformation in Latin America

Dr. Ronaldo Munck is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Centre for Engaged Research at Dublin City University and was a member of the Council of Europe Task Force on The Local Democratic Mission of Higher Education. Professor Munck was the first Head of Civic Engagement at DCU and drove the ‘third mission’ alongside teaching and research. As a political sociologist Professor Munck has written widely on the impact of globalisation on development, changing work patterns and migration. Recent works include Migration, Precarity and Global Governance; Rethinking Global Labour: After Neoliberalism and Social Movements in Latin America: Mapping the Mosaic.

Professor Munck has led large-scale social research projects funded by The British Academy, Economic and SocialResearch Council, Human Sciences Research Council, The Horizon Fund (EU), EU Peace and Reconciliation Fund, EUCorporate Social Responsibility Project, EU AGIS framework, EU Science and Society framework, HEA/Irish AidProgramme of Strategic Co-operation, South African Netherlands Partnership for Development, Social Science andHumanities Research Council, Canada.

He is a member of the editorial board of the following international journals: Globalizations, Global Social Policy, Global Discourse, Global Labour Journal, Latin American Perspectives and Review: Journal of the Fernand Braudel Center. He is a lead author of Amartya Sen’s International Panel on Social Progress Report ‘Rethinking Society of the 21st Century.’

Abstract: In both popular and academic parlance, the term “populism” has taken on a more or less uniformly negative connotation. It implies being an enemy of democracy, anti-immigrant and, most obviously, irrationally under the sway of a charismatic leader. Yet in Latin America, populism has been an integral element of the development and democratization process and plays an important role in the contemporary process of social transformation under the left-of-centre governments that have emerged since the turn of the century. Thus, we need to deconstruct the term “populism” and explore its diverse historical manifestations, to rethink its meaning and its prospects moving forward. The term “populism” today spells, for most people in the global North, something akin to racism and with dark memories of fascism lurking in the background. The “populists” who come to mind are Orbán, Le Pen, Farage or Trump, who cultivate a mass base around the needs of the “left behind” or native-born. The political elites are cast as globalizers, not from somewhere in particular, and dangerously complacent about the dangers of being swamped by mass immigration.

In Latin America, the same term has had a very different resonance. It is bound up with democratization, the incorporation of the working classes, and the making of the national developmental state. Its emergence is marked by the crisis of the conservative export-oriented state in the 1930s that burst into the open after the Second World War, with the growth of an organized labour movement and the consolidation of nationalism in the new world order that emerged. This gave way to what can be called a compromise state that replaced the old oligarchic state, and in which the popular masses were both mobilized and controlled by what became known as populist state politics.

There have been many interpretations of populism in Latin America. Early studies tended to place it in terms of the modernization of society and the emergence of disposable masses, waiting to be captured by an ideology that would promote social change while maintaining the stability of the dominant order. This perspective was closely tied to the dominant modernization perspective promoted by the US following the Second World War, as it sought to dominate the postcolonial world. It was also deployed in a different way by the advocates of national development, a conservative modernization from above, led by the state. It was thus often seen as tied to the emergence of national inward-looking development strategies that were an integral component of the postcolonial era. National industrialists would thus support these movements, as would the military in some cases due to their national developmentalist ambitions.


Varieties of Populism and Democratic Erosion: The Case of Latin America

Dr. Julio F. Carrión holds the position of Professor of Comparative Politics, specializing in Latin American Politics and Populism, at the Department of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Delaware. Dr. Carrión’s current research focuses on the relationship between populism, illiberalism, and democracy. He teaches courses in Latin American Politics, Research Methods, and Democratization more broadly, drawing upon his extensive experience in survey data analysis and both quantitative and qualitative methods. Dr. Carrión is the author of numerous books and articles. His most recent book is A Dynamic Theory of Populism in Power: The Andes in Comparative Perspective (New York: Oxford University Press, 2022). His most recent publication is “Illiberalism, Left-Wing Populism, and Popular Sovereignty in Latin America” (a chapter in the Oxford Handbook of Illiberalism, edited by Marlene Laruelle, 2024). He is currently working on a book manuscript tentatively entitled Public Opinion and Democracy in Peru, co-authored with Patricia Zárate and Jorge Aragón.

Abstract: Recent experience in Latin America shows that the erosion of democratic rule emanates from different sources. However, it is still the case that the most severe cases of democratic backsliding in recent years have come from populist chief executives seeking to aggrandize their power. The prominence of these cases has led many to conclude that populism in power, whether of the left or the right, leads inexorably to regime change. I argue that the record does not support this conclusion. The ascension of populism to power generally opens a moment of severe political confrontation that may or may not lead to the end of democratic rule. Thus, the relationship between populism and democracy depends on the variety of populism that crystallizes in power. The variety of populism that eventually develops is the result of the combination of permissive and productive conditions as well as the ability of non-populist actors and judicial institutions to successfully confront its autocratic predispositions. When analyzing populism in power, the most important distinction to make is not the nature of its discourse or the political coalition behind it but whether it can be constrained by non-populist actors. I also argue that those who extol the democratizing effects of populism in power are similarly mistaken. The record shows that in no instance of populism that lasted a decade or more in power resulted in a significant increase in the exercise of popular sovereignty. 


Global Power Dynamics and Authoritarian Populism in Venezuela

Dr. Adriana Boersner Herrera is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at The Citadel, The Military College of Charleston. Dr. Boersner Herrera’s main areas of research are Venezuelan foreign policy, the presence of Russia in Latin America, and leadership studies focusing on the personality of dictators. Dr. Boersner Herrera has years of teaching experience both in Venezuela and the United States.

Abstract: Due to changes in global power dynamics and different centers of power having global ambitions and mutual distrust of the West, liberal democracy, neoliberalism, and the liberal international order seem to be facing a challenging test. Populist leaders have exploited this to push for a more authoritarian agenda and populist rhetoric, positioning themselves as strong leaders who will protect national interests against liberalism and what’s perceived as a failed model of liberal democracy. They have used different strategies, including institutional attacks to diminish checks and balances, hegemonic parties, surveillance, repression, and scapegoating. However, these authoritarian strategies have not been implemented separately from changes in the international context. Rather, the changes in global power dynamics in the 21st century have helped populist leaders to openly model other populists in implementing various strategies through economic dependency, geopolitical authoritarian alliances, and regional dynamics. In the case of Venezuela, since Nicolas Maduro took power in 2013, it has been prominent Venezuela’s economic dependence on China and Russia, solid and expanded authoritarian alliances with Cuba, China, Iran, Syria, and Russia, and regional isolation while Maduro’s authoritarian power has been consolidated. The focus here is to trace the rise of authoritarian populism in Venezuela and how it has been viable due to changes in global power dynamics in the 21st century.


Libertarian Populism? Making Sense of Javier Milei’s Discourse

Dr. Reinhard Heinisch
 is Professor of Comparative Austrian Politics at the University of Salzburg and Head of the Department of Political Science. He earned his PhD at Michigan State University, USA. His research focuses on comparative populism and democracy. He is the author of over 40 peer-reviewed research articles and more than 50 other academic publications, including 12 books. His research been funded by numerous grants including a Marie Curie fellowship and Horizon 2020 grant. He is a faculty affiliate of the University Pittsburgh and a regular visiting lecturer at Renmin University of China.

Dr. Andrés Laguna Tapia is director of the Center for Research in Communication and Humanities and head of Communication Studies at UPB in Cochabamba. He holds a PhD from the University of Barcelona. He won several journalism awards and was program director of the International Film Festival of Huesca and jury member in various film and literature competitions. He has contributed texts to journals, books, and media in Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Spain, United States, France, and Mexico. His areas of research focus on film studies, the cultural and entertainment industries, philosophy of technology and aesthetics.

Abstract: Argentina’s Javier Milei is a self-proclaimed political insurgent promising radical political change. Upon assuming the presidency, he vowed to wrest power from la casta, a conceived illegitimate elite that he said had robbed the people of their resources and dignity. Milei, who is also known for his flamboyant style, cultivates the image of an anti-politician and a “madman,” meaning that only a madman, a “loco,” could take on and accomplish this task. Not surprisingly, political observers and the international media have identified Milei as a populist. Upon closer examination, however, it is unclear whether he is indeed a true populist, and even if Milei turns out to be such, it is not immediately apparent what kind of populist he is. While Milei’s anti-elitism is undisputed, his people-centeredness is. Since he is clearly also a libertarian, that means a defender of an extreme form of individualism, whereas populists generally construct some form of collective that they vow to defend. Populism without the construct of “the people” as a central reference category is unusual. Moreover, despite the bombastic rhetoric, Milei’s policy positions cannot simply be dismissed as typically shallow populist appeals to the lowest common denominator, because Milei is a serious economist. He has consistently backed up his calls with more substantive arguments. Furthermore, his proposals are not designed to be “popular,” as they promise painful medium-term cuts for long-term gains, which is also unusual for populist discourses. Lastly, he operates in a country shaped by past populist politics, which Milei blames for Argentina’s misfortunes. All of this raises the question of whether Milei is an anti-populist populist or a populist without an inherently popular agenda. More generally, our two-part research question asks whether Milei is indeed a populist and, if so, what kind of populist he is. Our goal is not merely to classify Milei’s political agenda, but more importantly to determine whether Milei represents a new type of populist, perhaps anticipating a fourth wave of populism that has emerged in Latin America in response to the wave of left-wing populism of before. To this end we undertake a comprehensive text analysis of Milei’s speeches, interviews, and social media presentations.


Oscar Gracia Landaeta oscargracia@upb.edu  (Universidad Privada Boliviana)

Reinhard Heinisch – reinhard.heinisch@plus.ac.at (University of Salzburg, Austria)

Andres Laguna – andreslaguna@upb.edu (Universidad Privada Boliviana)

Claudia Muriel –  claudiamuriel@upb.edu (Universidad Privada Boliviana)


The Phenomenon of ‘Bolsonarism’ in Brazil: Specificities and Global Connections

Dr. Victor de Oliveira Pinto Coelho is Professor of History at Universidade Federal do Maranhão (UFMA) and a faculty member at the Postgraduate Program in History (PPGHis/UFMA). He holds a leadership role in the CNPq Research Group ‘Powers and Institutions, Worlds of Labor, and Political Ideas’ – POLIMT (UFMA). Additionally, he is a member of CNPq research groups ‘Peripheral Studies Network’ – REP (UFMA) and ‘Myth and Modernity’ – MiMo (UFMG). Dr. Coelho is affiliated with the Schmittian Studies Group, part of the International Network of Schmittian Studies – RIES. Furthermore, he serves as the Vice-coordinator of the Political History Working Group of History National Association – ANPUH Brazil for the biennium 2023-2025. He is also a member of the State Committee to Combat Torture under the State Secretariat for Human Rights and Popular Participation – SEDIHPOP/Government of the State of Maranhão for the biennium 2023-2025.

Abstract: The presentation aims to succinctly outline the primary characteristics of Bolsonarism, a far-right phenomenon in Brazil. While summarizing the features highlighted in local analyses, I seek to delve into its distinct aspects within the Brazilian context and identify the traits that make it a global phenomenon. Lastly, against the backdrop of “new populisms,” I intend to define the distinguishing characteristics that classify Bolsonarism as a conservative or reactionary phenomenon, contrasting it with left-wing movements.