Interview #43 — Populists without borders

In this interview we talk about Benjamin Moffitt’s new book, which has the rare quality of reducing chaos and summarize the existing literature with clarity, giving examples and putting the studies out there in perspective. We discuss many topics: from transational to international populism in Europe and Latin America, nationalism and coronavirus, illiberalism, and the future of democracy.

Enjoy the read.

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Interview #42 — From authoritarian regimes to democracies, and back?

Using the pandemic to introduce authoritarian measures, Poland and Hungary are drifting away from liberal democratic principles. In this interview with Anna Grzymala-Busse we link the current state of affairs to the communist legacies present in the two countries.

What happens to authoritarian parties once the country starts a process of democratization? And what consequences does this have on the newly formed democratic system and on party competition?

After the democratic transition, populist actors can succeed by exploiting the weakness of mainstream parties as well as their lack of accountability and responsiveness to the voters. As a result, populists can weaken the formal institutions of democracy, going after the courts, the media, and undermine democratic values, dividing society between loyal supporters and traitorous opponents.

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Interview #36 — The Far Right Today

The Far Right Today is Cas Mudde’s new book. It is extremely recommended for academics, but its clarity, scope, and tone make it a great read for everyone interested in knowing what form the far right takes in contemporary politics, its origins and causesleadership styles, and its links to issues such as religion and gender. Most importantly, this book is a great read for those who want to know what can be done to protect liberal democracy’s pluralism and minority rights.

The book brings you across neo-Nazi skin subcultures of Mongolia and Malaysia, the Japanese gaisensha (vans covered in propaganda slogans and fitted with loudspeakers), Eastern German football hooligans, Nemzeti rock, and femonationalism, with a particular emphasis on cases such as India, Hungary, Israel, Brazil, and the United States. The variety of cases examined, the clarity of the language, and the diversity of topics considered, contribute to offer a panoramic view of the contemporary far right with vivid colors and unsettling details, but it also offers an engaging and necessary pro-active section on how to respond to the challenges posed by the far right.

Enjoy the read.


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Interview #35 — Notes from the third nationalist wave

In this interview, Sivamohan Valluvan explores the current wave of nationalism. Valluvan argues that Trump, Bolsonaro and Orban capitalized on the mainstreaming of nationalist ideas that started with moderate predecessors declaring the ‘death of multiculturalism’ such as Sarkozy, Merkel and Cameron. We then explore many topics and examine a variety of examples, including Brexit, authoritarian populism, Denmark, Thatcherism, and common misunderstandings about the links between working-class and nationalism.

His new book, “The Clamour of Nationalism” is an excellent read, and lately it has been mentioned in a very interesting article concerning the debate on how Europe intends  to “protect the European way of life”.

Enjoy the read.

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Interview #30 – All you need to know about radical right parties

It is time to hear Prof. Kai Arzheimer — one of the major experts on radical right parties — talking about Germany, AfD, Great Recession, populism in Portugal and Spain, Vergangenheitsbewältigung, and much more.

He explains who are the typical voters of radical right parties, and examines the role of the media, immigration, and European integration. Why populism does not thrive whenever there are promising conditions, what is going on in Poland and Hungary , and the future of democracy in Europe. Enjoy the read.


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Interview # 26 – Populism and the future of democracy

A new interview addressing many thorny issues of contemporary democracy. Left-wing populist movements across the globe, malfunctions of representative democracy, the dialectic between people and politicians, horizontal and vertical dimensions of populist mobilisation, the potential democratic renewal inherent in forms of direct democracy, the future of social democracy. This, and much more, in a fluvial chat with Giorgos Katsambekis. 

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Interview #25 – Hungary & Poland: Post-Communist Autocracies and Illiberal Democracy

What is going on in Poland and Hungary? A deliberate attempt to break with liberal democracy, Ben Stanley argues. In this interview we analyze the legacy of World War II and Communism and the role of Viktor Orban and Jarosław Kaczyński in the transformation of the two countries. Governmental control over the media, attempts to bring the judiciary under political control, and breaches of the constitution: What are the causes beyond these transformtions, and which will be the consequences for the future of the European Union?

Ben Stanley is Assistant Professor in the Centre for the Study of Democracy at the SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities (Warsaw). His primary area of research interest is the politics of populism in Central and Eastern Europe, incorporating analysis of party ideological appeals and voter behaviour. His current research activities include an experimental analysis of the links between conspiracy theory mentality and populism in Poland, measurement of populist attitudes in Central and Eastern Europe, and a monograph on Polish populism.

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Populism in Power: Law & Justice vs liberal democracy

What happens to a country when a populist party rules? What happens to liberal democracy when the populist idea of power is implemented? Bartek Pytlas illustrates the case of Poland to answer these questions, and examines the rhetoric toolbox used by the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) in order to control the state media, the Constitutional Court, and to fight against the European institutions.

As well as Orbán in Hungary, the PiS government is undermining checks and balances, minority protections, and in general all the mechanisms that make liberal democracy *liberal*. All of this, while being part of the European Union (the same that five years ago won the Nobel prize for peace) and going against all its most important principles.

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#IstandwithCEU

Yesterday, Sunday 2nd April 2017, 10.000 people rallied in the streets of Budapest to reclaim academic freedom and ask that the Central European University (CEU) remains in the Hungarian capital. Today the government discusses the faith of one of he most important universities in Europe.

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The rally in front of the CEU’s main building, Budapest, 2 April 2017

The Hungarian government has proposed amendments to the National Higher Education Law that would make it impossible for CEU – and possibly other international institutions – to continue operations within the country.

What can you do:

  • Send a letter of solidarity (here the sample)
  • Make a pubic and official statement of support as many other institutions, organizations and academic departments and faculties already did (here the list of statements of support)
  • Sign the petition (here)
  • Check for updates on the official CEU’s website, section #IstandwithCEU (here)

The pacific demonstration was a response from the academic component of the city but also the mobilization of thousands of citizens worried about the authoritarian drift of Orbán’s government.

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Rally in front of the Parliament, Budapest, 2 April 2017

Soon there will be news about this story, because it seems like there is an urge to silence such a cumbersome voice. Hopefully the government will listen to the people who mobilized to reclaim academic freedom, and to Tibor Navracsics, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, who said: “Central European University is one of the most important higher education institutions not only in Hungary, but also in the European Higher Education Area. Therefore, I think it’s important that after the correction of possible irregularities, it can continue to operate in Budapest undisturbed.”

Three Lessons From Contemporary Populism

2015 seemed like the perfect year for populist actors. All over the world more or less populist discourses were spread among the public opinion. In 2016 the diffusion of populism reached new and unexpected peaks. What changed in the diffusion and perception of populism? Essentially, there are three lessons we can learn. Continue reading