The Thinking Lab on Populism is dealing with one of the fastest growing phenomena in current European politics. Well known in other parts of the world, such as Latin America, the concept of populism is still an unclear one. While many experts and journalists characterize very heterogenous political movements such as Podemos on the one hand, and far right protest movements like the German Alternative für Deutschland, as being populist, the Thinking Lab is benefiting from a broader view on the matter and will try to bring clarity in the debate.



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Populism

Populism is not the problem

Why we should focus on values in political debate instead of style25 July 2017 | Hanno Burmester
"AfD Wahlkampfauftakt" (CC BY-NC 2.0) by strassenstriche.net

Populism is everywhere these days. Not only as a phenomenon but also as a topic in political discourse. Yet, the closer you look at it, the more you will realize that populism is quite a messy term. It signifies everything from an unease towards dissent, to the fear of a weakened democracy. More importantly, once you get a grip on how you define the term you will realize that populism may be destructive and inflammatory but is not the real problem. It is mostly a symptom for fundamental conflicts in society.

Press Event Populism

Voices from the Thinking Lab on Populism

An interview with Orange Magazine6 April 2017 | Anna Romandash, Demetrios Pogkas

During the second Thinking Lab Summit in Paris, Orange Magazine spoke with Elena García Mañes and Filipe Santos Henrique. They talked about their stances on Populism in Europe.

Populism Thinking Lab Summit Analysis

Security Pivot Towards a Police State in France

Populisms' Slippery Slope5 February 2017
"Police Francaise - Policía francesa - F" (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by Oscar in the middle

The first European Thinking Lab took place from 25-27 November in Lisbon. During the Summit, the contributors cooperated within their Thinking Lab and worked out brief policy proposals. Félix Blanc is engaged with the topic of a Security Pivot towards a Police State in France.

Populism in Eastern Europe

An analysis of Elena Marcela Coman21 January 2017
"Jobbik flags" (CC BY-NC 2.0) by Leigh Phillips

Thwarting the Political Cleavages of Western Europe – What We Can Learn from Populists. Elena Marcela Coman outlines the historic trajectory and specific traits of populist movements in Eastern Europe.

Populism Analysis

What We Can Learn from Populists – A Populist Backlash in the Philippines

Duterte: The Success of the "Celebrity Maverick"2 January 2017 | Sophie Pornschlegel
"✊👊 Atin to pre! #Duterte #dutertefo" (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by incrediblethots

How come the “celebrity maverick” has proven so successful with his unconventional, violent and vile approach? Why does Duterte’s populism attract so many voters and enabled him to become President?

Populism Thinking Lab Summit Analysis

My Populism is Bigger than Yours

The Trajectory of Populist Movements in Europe, Reasons for Their Success and Reactions of Established Parties 20 December 2016 | Nuno Casimiro
"A European Union map composed entirely o" (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by European Parliament

Mainstream parties seem to believe that refusing ideological attachments and claiming that the populists are “the others” will be enough for the citizens to recognize them as the ones offering providential solutions. The problem is that, while the gap between representatives and represented is not narrowed, between a soft populism and the real thing, dangerous “others” might take the place with rather scary alternatives.

Populism Analysis

Populism: Not Left, not Right, not an Alternative?

A symptom of a failing political culture15 November 2016 | Sophie Pornschlegel
"left/right" (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by na.harii 

For a few years now, Western liberal democracies have seen the rise in populist parties on the far left and on the far right of the political spectrum, while mainstream parties do not seem to convince dissatisfied voters any more. Is populism an alternative to traditional left and right wing political parties, as most of them pretend to be?

Populism Opinion

Feeling the Bern or Making America Great Again: What we can learn from populists in the 2017 US elections

Populist measures not only as a threat, but also as a potential for democracy within campaigning4 November 2016 | Sophie Pornschlegel, Hanno Burmester
"Bernie Sanders for President" (CC BY 2.0) by Phil Roeder, "Donald Trump as he exits the stage after" (CC BY 2.0) by markn3tel , / Desaturated from original

Politics need emotions. Campaigns need charismatic leaders representing hope. They need to come up with viable alternatives to the status quo. Democratic politicians cannot stay on the safe side. They need to get out there, explain their approaches, and to find new ways of talking to the voters. They need to have the courage to oppose those Trumps out there.

Populism Opinion

We can learn from Populists

Dealing with a challenging phenomenon19 October 2016 | Hanno Burmester
© Katja-Julia Fischer

Hanno Burmester, DIALOGUE ON EUROPE Co-Facilitator and Das Progressive Zentrum Policy Fellow argues within the debate magazine Tagesspiegel Causa that established parties should learn from populist parties’ successes.

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