Virtual Symposium by The European Center for Populism Studies (ECPS), Brussels/Belgium
March 30-31, 2023
Day I (March 30, 2023)
14:00–17:30 (Central European Time)
By Cengiz AKTAR (Professor, Senior Researcher at Foreign Policy Program of the ECPS).
By Sir Graham WATSON (Honorary President of the ECPS).
Multilateralism: The Past and the Future
14:30-16:00 (Central European Time)
Moderator: Aline BURNI (Policy Analyst on International Relations, Foundation for European Progressive Studies, Brussels).
“How international law enables great power domination and great power competition and what can be done about it,” by Mattias KUMM (S.J.D. Harvard, Research Professor for Global Constitutionalism, WZB Berlin Social Science Center).
“Mini-literalism in the Indo-Pacific as an alternative to multilateralism and bilateralism? The role of public support and populism,” by Werner PASCHA (Prof. of Economics, Duisburg-Essen University, Institute of East Asian Studies-IN-EAST).
“On the new paradigms of cooperation in the rising world of multiplexity in countering populism,” by Richard CLARK (Associated Professor, Department of Government, Cornell University).
Power Shift, Multiplex World, and Populism
16:00-17:30 (Central European Time)
Moderator: Emilia ZANKINA (Interim Vice Provost for Global Engagement, Dean, Temple University Rome).
“Cooperation regimes and hegemonic struggle: Opportunities and challenges for developing countries,” by Sara CARIA (Research Professor at The Center for Public Economics and Strategic Sectors at the Institute of Higher National Studies).
“The Chinese perspective of multilateralism, power transition, and the so-called new world order,” by ZHANG Xin (Associated Professor, School of Politics and International Relations, Deputy Director/Center for Russian Studies, East China Normal University, Shanghai).
“In pursuit of Xi Jinping’s dream world order: The case of the BRI,” by Ibrahim OZTURK (Professor of Economics, The ECPS Senior Researcher and the University of Duisburg-Essen, Institute of East Asian Studies).
Day II (March 31, 2023)
13:00–17:30 (Central European Time)
“Saving multilateralism and democracy under global power transition and rising authoritarian populism,” by Věra JOUROVA (The Vice President of the European Commission for Values and Transparency –Previously the European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality).
The ‘New Globalization’ and Countering Populism
14:00-15:30 (Central European Time)
Moderator: Helmut WAGNER (Professor of Economics, Fern Universität in Hagen).
“Economic populism and sovereigntism: The rise of European radical right-wing populist parties,” by Oscar MAZZOLENI (Political Sciences, University of Lausanne).
“Populism or embedded plutocracy? The emerging world orders,” by Michael LEE (CUNY-Hunter College, New York).
“Chinese ‘hub and spoke’ – multilateralism and the notion of populist economic policy,” by Marcus TAUBE (Professor of East Asian Economics/China, Mercator School of Management, Institute of East Asian Studies (IN-EAST), Duisburg-Essen University).
Closing Keynote Speech
15:30-16:30 (Central European Time)
“Multipolar globalization, learning curves and populism,” by Jan Nederveen PIETERSE (Mellichamp Chair and Distinguished Professor of Global Studies & Sociology, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA).
16:30-16:45 (Central European Time)
By Naim KAPUCU (Pegasus Professor, School of Public Administration & School of Politics, Security, and International Affairs, University of Central Florida).
How international law enables great power domination and great power competition and what can be done about it
By Mattias Kumm
After WWII the UN Charter established the obligation to resolve disputes peacefully, to prohibit the use of force and establish a system of collective security. In practice this system has failed in its core mission to prevent militarily organized great power competition. Instead, the system has evolved to effectively establish prerogative powers in favor of certain great powers, who compete with one another today over the question who and within what limits these powers are to be exercised. The presentation will analyze the specific features of international law, that effectively enable the United States, China and Russia to exercise prerogative power and addresses the question what might be done to curtail and eventually eliminate those powers and the dangerous competition it produces.
Minilateralism in the Indo-Pacific as an alternative to multilateralism and bilateralism? The role of public support and populism
By Werner Pascha
Minilateralism has spread considerably in recent years, and the Indo-Pacific has been a pivot for this development. The Quad group, encompassing Australia, India, Japan and the US, is but the most prominent example. The trend towards minilateral initiatives is usually explained by referring to issues on the level of international cooperation, namely certain deficiencies of multilateralism and bilateralism. Another argument is related to presumed organizational efficiency advantages. In this contribution, we explore the under-researched argument that minilateralism is also related to domestic political factors of the countries involved. Namely, we look into the argument that in many circumstances it may be easier and more promising for both populist governments and for governments that need to defend themselves against populist sentiments to engage in minilateral initiatives, rather than to focus on different levels of international cooperation.
On the new paradigms of cooperation in the rising world of multiplexity in countering populism
By Richard Clark
A nascent literature in international relations has identified a reticence by populist leaders to engage in good faith with international organizations (IOs), including international financial institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). This is largely because such organizations are staffed by elites and experts, which populists position themselves against, and perceived by populists’ constituents as benefiting elites rather than the common people. As a result of this populist skepticism of IOs, resurgent populism in many parts of the world has corresponded to mounting attacks by populist leaders on IOs and the experts that staff them. Moreover, populists may take advantage of regime complexity, or the presence of multiple IOs in a given issue space, to select the forum that intrudes least on state sovereignty. I will specifically discuss how the IMF and its operations have been targeted by populist leaders in this way; how the Fund has reacted to the populist challenge; and the conditions under which populists may cooperate with rather than criticize the IMF.
Cooperation regimes and hegemonic struggle: Opportunities and challenges for developing countries
By Sara Caria
There is an increasing convergence in the international relations literature around the idea that changes in the world economy during the last decades are reshaping the international order; although the outcome of such a reconfiguration is yet unclear, many scholars argue that a dispute over global hegemony is already underway. At the same time, drawing on realist and neorealist approaches, international cooperation can be seen as a means to gain legitimacy and tighten alliances. In this framework, this article analyses three cooperation regimes as terrains of dispute to expand—or maintain—international leadership. The first, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Agenda, reflects mainly the attempt to maintain the legitimacy of the United Nations system and the multilateral institutions that make up the traditional cooperation regime. This framework still responds to Western interests, despite China’s efforts to contest and contain US influence. The second, South–South cooperation, wrapped up in the rhetoric of horizontality and common challenges, is the privileged terrain of middle powers and emerging countries, aiming at increasing regional influence. Finally, the third scheme, International Cooperation for Structural Transformation, is China’s new development doctrine and the fulcrum of its struggle to promote itself as a successful new model for global development. In my conclusions I reflect on the opportunities that the co-existence of different regimes offers for developing countries, as well as the challenges that they continue to face in their search for autonomous development paths.
Shifting Chinese perspectives on multilateralism and the “new world order”
By ZHANG Xin
The presentation first unpacks the multiple layers of connotations within Chinese state’s discourse on multilateralism and new world order, including multilateralism vs. isolation; multilateralism vs. multipolarity; multilateralism as institutions/rule binding behavior vs. non-institutionalized behavior; genuine multilateralism vs. fake multilateralism, etc. It then traces how Chinese state’s perceptions of multilateralism have shifted over time, partially driven by the ongoing power transition in international system. Last, it briefly matches such shifting perceptions and discursive mechanisms on multilateralism and new world order with China’s key policy choices and institutional building during the past two decades.
In pursuit of Xi Jinping’s dream world order: The case of the BRI
By Ibrahim Ozturk
The current multipolarity and power shifts make it essential to see what kind of world order the rising powers like China want. While some experts endeavor to grasp this concerning the long history of China, in this presentation, we will try to project the future by following the strategy, institutional governance quality, policy and practices that China has put forward since 2014 in BRI, the most important vision project put before the international community. China’s selective and dual approach towards the current “global order” is the most prominent hint about China’s world order. Namely, the communist party keeps silent in reforming the existing multilateral global system’s deficiencies in matters deemed appropriate for China’s interests. It also uses the opportunities of the liberal order abroad but denies the principle of reciprocity at home and tries to legitimize it with the so-called “socialism with Chinese characteristics”. This presentation will argue that the Chinese perspective observed in the BRI can be interpreted as the reincarnation of China’s hierarchical “world systems approach”, which refers to its ancient investiture-tribute system.
Economic populism and sovereigntism: The rise of European radical right-wing populist parties
By Oscar Mazzoleni
The study of the ideological and policy stances of successful European radical right-wing populist parties represents important research topics in political science. Although cultural dimensions taken in a narrow sense are crucial (e.g. Norris & Inglehart 2019), scholarship has been increasingly interested to economic aspects, with a focus on welfare, redistribution and international trade. This contribution argues that the economic supply of radical right populist parties is characterized by a mix of economic populism and sovereignism, which forms the basis of a common mobilization frame. While economic populism refers to defense of the economic prosperity of the ‘heartland’ against its enemies, e.g. the elite and immigrants, economic sovereignism entails the message of “nostalgia of the old good times” by referring to an idealized or “gold” period when economic well-being was predominant among the people, and which needs to be restored” (Ivaldi & Mazzoleni 2021).
Populism or embedded plutocracy? The emerging world orders
By Michael Lee
What kind of foreign policy vision are populist governments likely to bring to the world stage? Conventional wisdom would suggest that populists are likely to oppose multilateral cooperation and the cosmopolitan global vision that has characterized much of the post-Cold War era. However, this does not mean that populists are intrinsically opposed to all forms of international interaction – particularly in a world order increasingly shaped by populist governments themselves. I argue that while populists are likely to oppose formal and technocratic intergovernmental organizations, populist leaders are likely to engage in bilateral cooperation with other leaders, and even in more broad-based cooperation when doing so is aligned with the divisions they would like to stoke domestically.
Chinese “hub and spoke”-multilateralism and the notion of populist economic policy
By Marcus Taube
Chinese leaders present themselves as advocators of a multilateral world order. As exemplified by the Belt & Road Initiative, however, China’s de facto (economic) external relations are modelled on a “hub-and-spoke” system, where China establishes a multitude of bilateral relations, which are then integrated in a larger (multilateral) setting in which China commands a central, leading role. The presentation discusses this phenomenon and outlines populist features of China’s external economic policies designed to promote further Chinese influence, economic leverage and soft-power in an international economic environment.
Multipolar globalization, learning curves and populism
By Jan Nederveen Pieterse
Right-wing populist parties move to the center (Italy, France, Sweden), repeat electoral rollercoasters (Netherlands), insert authoritarian nostalgia into the mainstream (Philippines), fail (Trump, Bolsonaro) or remain stuck in failure (Brexit, Freedom Caucus). Right of center parties move to the extreme right (Likud Israel, US Republicans), muddle on (UK) or nearly crater (UMNO Malaysia). Center parties may opt for ‘critical centrism’ (Macron). Other parties are in the phase of changing not just politics, phase one and policies, phase two, but laws and institutions, level three (BJP India, Likud, Erdogan Turkey, Fidesz Hungary, Justice Party Poland), a level that established authoritarian regimes have long achieved. These multi-directional trends involve crisscrossing learning curves, alongside Realpolitik, on the part of politicians, publics, media, think tanks, funders, foreign interests (Russian influencers) and so forth. For rightwing voters issue loyalty often matters more than party loyalty. Politics is constant learning, its nature changes as dynamics change and learning is multi-directional. Polycrisis focuses social attention on capable governance rather than ideological posturing. While much right-wing populism has been a response to economic setbacks, deindustrialization, 2008 crisis, austerity, immigration, now great power conflicts take the foreground and multipolar globalization takes a geopolitical turn, a shift that leaves less room at the table for right-wing populists. Overarching trends play a part in multi-directional movements, yet they are not linear and their implications are not uniform across settings. Generalizations about populism miss its diversity and diverse learning curves.