Understanding the Populist Turn I

Populism, an East-West divide?

How should we understand the surge of support for populist leaders and the growing dissatisfaction with the political establishment both in Western and Eastern Europe? Together with leading thinkers Jan-Werner Müller, Ulrike Guerot and Slawomir Sierakowski we will analyse Europe’s populist turn.

Sat, 02 Jun • 15:00
Frascati 1


Were you not able to attend Understanding the Populist Turn I or would you like to rewatch the programme? Click here for the recording.

Populism is on the rise in Europe as recent elections in France and Germany showed, as well as the surge in Eastern European countries such as Poland, Hungary, and Romania. Where in 2000 populist parties pulled more than 20% of the votes in two countries, today, they managed to do so in ten countries. In Italy, a shocking 50% of people who went out to vote supported populist parties during the elections in March 2018.

How should we understand this surge of support for populist leaders and the growing dissatisfaction with the political establishment in Europe? Why does populism seem more relentless in central and eastern European countries than in Western Europe? Is it only a matter of time before populist parties come to power in Western countries as well? What socio-political factors underlie the populist turn across Europe and how are they different in Central and Eastern Europe in comparison to developments in Western Europe?

Together with leading thinkers who have sharply analysed populist developments and are from various parts of Europe, we will discuss the current populist mood in Europe and dive into the reasons behind the populist turn.


Professor Jan-Werner Müller, working at Princeton University. He is a leading expert on populism and author of the book What is Populism? (2016).

Philosopher and historian Ulrike Guerot. After working for the EU for 20 years as a political advisor, she subsequently predicted the death of the EU. Currently, she is the director of the European Democracy Lab, a think tank dedicated to the future of European democracy.

Polish sociologist and political commentator Slawomir Sierakowski, leader of the Eastern European left-wing movement “Krytyka Polityczna”.

With an introduction by Dessy Gavrilova 

Moderator: Eelco Bosch van Rosenthal

As part of this programme series we are also organising Understanding the Populist Turn II – 10 Lessons against Populism.

Get your Combi-ticket here: regular/reducted

This programme is part of a programme series on populism across Europe organised by the Time to Talk Network (The European Network of Houses for Debate). This series is supported by The Open Society Initiative for Europe.

Thanks to/credits

Join our newsletter