Conference: Politicologenetmaal 2018
Workshop: Populism Is Here! So What?
Chairs: Andrej Zaslove (University of Nijmegen), Matthijs Rooduijn (University of Amsterdam), Steven Van Hauwaert (Universtity of Mainz)
Location and date: Leiden, 7-8 June 2018
Deadline for submission: 15 March 2018
For further details: Workshop programme

The recent election of populism as 2017’s word of the year is not surprising (although perhaps misplaced) considering its systematic coverage across countries. Think only about the US presidential campaigns and subsequent election and the French/Dutch national elections, to name but a few examples. While populism certainly is not new, it is arguably much more pervasive, visible and controversial today than it has ever been. This, of course, comes with an equal amount of misconceptions, misunderstandings and challenges. Therefore, more than ever, its study is important.

Populism has gradually become a permanent feature across the vast majority of European democracies. Even though most populism research focuses on political parties, it is (should) no longer be restricted to this. Recent academic developments highlight the role of populism amongst individuals, as part of traditional institutions and mainstream political actors, and across the political spectrum and irrespective of political colour. At the same time, many European democracies are undergoing sizeable changes, from the systematic decline of social democracy (or social democratic parties) to the polarisation of European democracies and more structural institutional evolutions, such as the immigration/refugee crisis and a potential Brexit. Many of these trends, whether dramatic or gradual, are often related to populism and the rise or persistence of this phenomenon. The real question, however, remains: To what extent is populism to blame? And, if populism plays a factor, is it as an input or an output?

While the issue of populism is of course a broad one and its (supposed) impact quite comprehensive, this workshop particularly seeks contributions that address the consequences of populism at its different analytical levels. While we do not distinguish in terms of methodologies, empirical approaches or research designs, we do favour papers that provide particular theoretical insights into the larger puzzle that currently can be described as populism is here, so what? To what extent does populism affect mainstream parties, either in terms of electoral success or coalition potential? How does populism play a role in the increasing fragmentation and polarisation dynamics we see in European (pseudo) democracies? To what extent can populism reduce the widening democratic deficit or improve general dynamics of representation? Should populism alarm (liberal) democracies or can they serve as a stimulus for (necessary) democratic reform?

This workshop does not favour any specific methodological approach, but we are particularly interested in mixed-method, comparative and innovative approaches. The workshop is supported by the ECPR Standing Group on Extremism and Democracy and Team Populism.