The POPULISMUS research project comprises a dense web of activities aimed at the conceptual, analytical and interpretative enhancement of our capacity to investigate populist discourse and its relation to democracy. The full development and completion of the project entails four steps (Work-packages/WPs). The preparatory WP1 functioned as a crucial springboard for the project, since it allowed the members of the team to: 1. Register and categorize existing approaches to populism, as they are presented in the relevant international literature, tracing gaps and deficiencies, 2. Establish a historical genealogy of the populist phenomenon, from its beginnings up until today, registering the multiplicity of its manifestations, 3. Acquire/refine research skills on discourse analysis and articulate a preliminary methodological strategy for the analysis of populist discourse with reference to the conceptual and theoretical arsenal of the ‘Essex School’. Apart from bibliographical research and the ongoing collaboration among the members of the POPULISMUS team, a crucial part of WP1 involved the organization of a three-day international workshop with the participation of international and Greek speakers that specialize on the project’s field of study and methodology.

In WP2 the members of the research team engaged in a series of visits aimed at collecting data and conducting interviews and research meetings on the subject of populism and its effects on democracy. A fuller knowledge of the situation on the ground in areas considered epicenters of populist mobilizations (Venezuela and Argentina in Latin America; the US; France, the Netherlands, Spain and Greece in Europe) was thus established. At the same time, the research team has started organizing and processing the data gathered during field research, in dialogue with the bibliographical review of WP1, and material from the first two WPs has started being uploaded in the (under construction) Observatory of the project. In our next step, WP3, the methodology of discourse analysis, which has been developed within WP1, will be applied in the analysis of interview transcripts and other textual materials from WP2. In particular, the team will compile three thematic studies: 1. Contemporary left-wing populism in Latin America, 2. Extreme right-wing populism in Europe, 3. Populism and anti-populism in times of crisis: Challenges for democracy. These thematic studies (WP3) will broaden our knowledge on the phenomenon in question, advance the analytical scope of our approach, and, last but not least, demonstrate the strengths and weaknesses of the discourse-analytical model, allowing for necessary revisions.

Accompanying the research project to its completion, WP4 aims at articulating our final research conclusions through the interconnection between the thematic studies (WP3) and the bibliographical/historical review (WP1), also aiming at the preparation of a series of publications. Here, special emphasis is also placed on the dissemination of the final conclusions and overall research findings through: 1. The organization of an international conference on populist discourse and democracy to take place in Thessaloniki between 26-28 June 2015, 2. The gradual development of the online Observatory towards a fully functional interactive platform, and, 3. The completion, presentation at the conference and submission for publication of the scientific papers/articles produced by the research team.