Populism in Europe: from symptom to alternative?

Populism in Europe: from Symptom to Alternative?

Publication date:
Eckart Woertz, Senior Research Fellow and Research Coordination, CIDOB (Coord.)

CIDOB Report nº 1 Abril 2017 

Liberal democracies are in a fragile state. Simplistic populist messages of us vs. them with often-xenophobic undertones and attempts to undermine the legitimacy of democratic institutions can count on a receptive audience and a transformed (social) media landscape in Europe. In some countries such as France and Austria populist parties have moved beyond the fringe and have run as serious contenders in nationwide elections, in Hungary and Poland they actually govern. A considerable part of the European population could imagine living in authoritarian systems. They find some aspects of such governance appealing, such as tight surveillance, compromised individual liberties, and uniform structures of society, and look admiringly for current and historical role models. For some this echoes the 1930s, when fascism in Europe was on the rise and received considerable support from sympathisers even within developed democracies, such as the British Union of Fascist of Oswald Mosley or Charles Lindberg, who played an influential role in the isolationist America First Committee in the USA. Nonetheless, to compare today’s populists with yesterday’s fascists is a stretch, though. One might argue that it is even slanderous, given their still limited role, more benign attitudes and some legitimate concerns they articulate. Still, the challenges for liberal democracies are real and are at the heart of the analysis in this collaborative volume by researchers from CIDOB and other think tanks and institutions.


Publication content

ISSN: 2564-9086
E-ISSN: 2564-9124
D.L.: B 11821-2017