European Populism in the Shadow of the Great Recession, edited by Hanspeter Kriesi & Takis S Pappas

Research Papers & Analysis

About the Book

This volume, covering twenty-five populist parties in seventeen European states, presents the first comparative study of the impact of the Great Recession on populism.

Based on a common analytical framework, chapters offer a highly differentiated view of how the interplay between economic and political crises helped produce patterns of populist development across Europe.

Populism grew strongly in Southern and Central-Eastern Europe, particularly where an economic crisis developed in tandem with a political one. Nordic populism went also on the rise, but this region’s populist parties have been surprisingly responsible. In Western Europe, populism actually contracted during the crisis – with the exception of France.

As for the two Anglo-Saxon countries, while the UK has experienced the rise of a strong anti-European populist force, Ireland stands out as a rare case in which no such a party has risen in spite of the severity of its economic and political crises.


Published: May 2015

Publisher: ECPR Press

Megatrend Global Populism? From South America to the Occupy Movement, Alejandro Pelfini

Research Papers & Analysis


The purpose of this paper is to analyze the continuities or the “elective affinities” between the recent populist wave (or populist come back) in South America and the current Occupy Movement in order to trace the contours of an original populism at a global scale. The article starts with a brief definition of populism, continues with a brief evaluation of the recent return of populism in South America finishing with the analysis of the main connections with the current Occupy Movement: the experience of a crisis; the claims for more democracy and the exploration of a postneoliberal political economy. In societies with obscene levels of inequality such as what exists in many South American countries, populism does not seem to be a heresy or a pathology, but a rational alternative to solve problems rooted in a failed nation building processes. Increasing indignation as a generalize perception of non-experienced levels of inequality in the concentration of resources and power at the global level is at the basis of one can call a populist moment. It has to be discussed, if this populist moment also contains an original populist movement with global contours inside.

Chapter in Alexander Lenger & Florian Schumacher (Eds) Understanding the Dynamics of Global Inequality, Springer, 2015, pp. 199-211,

Left-wing populism in the European periphery: the case of SYRIZA, Yannis Stavrakakis & Giorgos Katsambekis

Research Papers & Analysis


Due to its electoral performance in the 2012 general elections, SYRIZA, a previously unknown Greek political formation of the radical left, gained unprecedented visibility within the European public sphere. How is this strong showing and the political message articulated by SYRIZA to be interpreted? Utilizing a discursive methodology, this paper puts to the test the two assumptions predominating in most available analyses, namely that SYRIZA articulates a populist rhetoric, that it constitutes a predominantly populist force; and, given the near-exclusive association of populism with extreme right-wing movements, that SYRIZA constitutes a populist danger for Europe. Our analysis concludes that SYRIZA’s discourse is indeed a distinct articulation of left-wing populism. However, this by no means vindicates the second part of the prevailing wisdom: SYRIZA’s portrayal as a dangerous force threatening fundamental European values. If, however, this is the case, then mainstream research orientations in the study of European populism may have to be reviewed.

Published in the Journal of Political Ideologies, Volume 19, Issue 2, 2014 (June 9),

How to Perform Crisis: A Model for Understanding the Key Role of Crisis in Contemporary Populism, Benjamin Moffitt

Research Papers & Analysis


A focus on crisis is a mainstay of the literature on contemporary populism. However, the links between populism and crisis remain under-theorized and undeveloped. This article puts forward a novel perspective for understanding this relationship, arguing that crisis does not just trigger populism, but that populism also attempts to act as a trigger for crisis. This is because crises are always mediated and ‘performed’. The article presents a six-step model of how populist actors ‘perform’ crisis, drawing on empirical examples from Europe, Latin America, North America and the Asia-Pacific region. It explains how the performance of crisis allows populist actors to pit ‘the people’ against a dangerous other, radically simplify the terrain of political debate and advocate strong leadership. It ultimately suggests that we should move from thinking of crisis as something purely external to populism, towards thinking about the performance of crisis as an internal core feature of populism.

Government and Opposition / FirstView ArticleCopyright, DOI: Published online: 29 May 2014

The European populist challenge, Yannis Stavrakakis

Research Papers & Analysis


In today’s Europe, the word ‘populism’ usually refers to right-wing populism or the populist extreme right. Is, however, the concept of ‘populism’ the proper theoreticopolitical instrument through which such identifications should be perceived, categorized and debated? What are the implications (direct and indirect) of such a naming? And what are the risks for critical analysis and for democratic politics in the European context? The hypothesis explored in this essay is that sticking to a restrictive association between ‘populism’ and the extreme right poses certain dangers that have to be seriously taken into account, especially in times of crisis. For a start, it is often premised on a rather simplistic euro-centrism that reduces the broad conceptual spectrum covered by the category ‘populism’ in its global use to a very particular European experience and then essentializes the resulting association, over-extending its scope. In addition, the category ‘populism’ is often used to describe political forces, identities and discourses in which the role of ‘the people’ is only secondary or peripheral, to the extent that it has to coincide with strongly hierarchical and elitist visions of society. What complicates things even further is that, within the context of the European (economic and political) crisis, whoever questions/ resists the austerity agenda – especially on the left – is increasingly discredited and denounced as an irresponsible populist. Indeed, it is not by coincidence that doubts are increasingly voiced both in the theoretical and in the political literature regarding the rationale behind such a strong association between populism and the extreme right. A series of points will thus be raised that may help us develop a plausible theoretico-political strategy in the new emerging conditions from a discursive perspective.

Annals of the Croatian Political Science Association (10/2013),