Populism in Democratic Countries: Foundations and Measures

Populism in Democratic Countries: Foundations and Measures

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This Europa Policy Lab is co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union

A series of elections over the last few years have emphasized a political change in many voters across different countries. Surprising election results (the Netherlands, Austria, France, Germany, Italy, the USA and Sweden, to name a few) have suggested that popular resentment for a failed economic recovery as well as open immigration decisions contributed to a wave of so-called ‘populism’. As new leaders from populist movements are benefiting from the voters’ anger and disappointment, electoral systems are experiencing a surge in new protest parties, whose main scope is to disrupt and replace the current political and economic system with something different.

Illiberal political leaders have embraced similar positions with regards to economic and cultural policies, helping extreme parties in elections and introducing major policy changes once in government. How can we understand how it has spread across countries in such domino effect? What do we mean by the term ‘populism’?

This policy lab plans to accomplish two main goals:

1) the identification and understanding of the term ‘populism’ in a comparative context, employing some European case studies as examples; and

2) the initial development of possible measures to quantify the presence of populist views in European countries.

Afternoon tea will be served

Associate Professor Francesca Vassallo’s publications have focused on comparative political behavior, protest activism, French politics, European public opinion, and US-EU relations. In addition to publications like peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, she has served as a guest editor for special issues of German Politics and Society (2013) and PS: Political Science and Politics (2018). Her book France, Social Capital and Political Activism (Palgrave) was published in 2010. Associate Professor Vassallo is currently working on a research project investigating measures of populism in democratic systems, with a particular focus on Europe, and a book-length manuscript on European public opinion and the recent EU citizen consultations.

Date & time

Tue 11 Dec 2018, 1–2.30pm


The Nye Hughes Room, ANU Centre for European Studies


Associate Professor Francesca Vassallo, University of Southern Maine, United States


ANU Centre for European Studies
+61 2 61259896


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