ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

Explaining Right-Wing Populism in Central and Eastern Europe: Economics, Politics, (Civil) Society and Culture

Europe (Central and Eastern)
Civil Society
Comparative Politics
Democracy
Political Economy
Populism
Political Sociology
Political Cultures
S22
Jan Kubik
University College London
Sabine Dorothea Volk
Jagiellonian University


Abstract

The present wave of populist mobilizations in Europe, at the beginning of the 2020s, is more politically consequential than any previous wave and has already produced an ‘extraordinary’ [Brubaker 2017a, 2017b] reconfiguration of the political map of Europe. Populist parties have become significant political players in several Western European countries, including Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, France, UK and Germany, and their number has almost doubled since 2000 (from 33 to 63) [Eiermann et al. 2018]. Right-wing populists are, however, strongest in post-communist Central and Eastern Europe (CEE): In this region, populist parties have not only emerged as serious contenders for political power, but are actually in government. The rule of Orban in Hungary and the Law and Justice party in Poland, amongst others, has resulted in a crisis of liberal democracy thirty years after the fall of communism. The trajectory of the CEE countries since the democratic revolutions of 1989 is not just interesting in and of itself: it is also the harbinger of a possible future for the whole continent. It is therefore urgent for Western Europeans to look into the CEE mirror, just as it is urgent for the CEE region to understand itself. With this in mind, this section aims at taking stock of the recent rise of populism in the CEE region in order to draw lessons that will also be applicable to other countries. Specifically, the section will enable the interdisciplinary discussion of the rise of populism in CEE beyond narrow concepts such as the illiberal turn and democratic backsliding. In the proposed panels, we aim to develop new models to describe, interpret and explain the rise of populism in the CEE region. We contend that, while populism has been examined by scholars from different disciplinary backgrounds [Rovira Kaltwasser et al. 2017], the full potential of multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research has not been achieved yet. This section grows out of the cooperation of researchers in the framework of the EU-funded Horizon2020 projects FATIGUE and POPREBEL. Both projects aim at developing new theories, methodologies, and empirical results from a variety of disciplinary approaches. It involves researchers at all career stages who work in and on the CEE region. We see this section as an opportunity to deepen the discussion by inviting panel and paper proposals from diverse academic disciplines and at all career stages which focus on post-communist Europe. In particular, the panels and papers in this section will/should focus on: 1. Economics: One panel in this section will explore economic aspects of populism in CEE. Amongst other things, it will test the hypothesis that populism both drives and is driven by the transformation of the economy on the global, regional and domestic levels (the demand side of economic populism). Also, we will discuss if the perception of economic (in)security as a key cause of the rise of populism. We invite papers to engage with a new concept for economic populism, namely neo-feudalism, which relates to state capitalist regimes against the backdrop of the fear of economic insecurity. To this end, we will invite papers using both theoretical and empirical perspectives. 2. Political science: A second panel in this section will discuss political aspects of populism in CEE, in particular with regard to the interactions between political actors pushing the populist agenda and civil society groups or individual citizens that decide to support them, or, alternatively, to push back. Hence, besides the conventional role of political parties (the supply side of populism), the accepted papers will investigate forms of political mobilization, both traditional (marches, rallies) and non-traditional (social media activism, troll farms, bot armies), and how they play out in the political arena. 3. Sociology: A third panel in this section will focus on social aspects of populism, combining the demand side and supply side dimensions. The papers will study various populist movements in CEE as well as the societies which they inhabit, including societal discourses on pressing topics such as migration and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. A diachronic perspective is encouraged in this context. Also, this panel will engage with the concept of cultural neo-traditionalism as a lens to understand the populist phenomenon. 4. Anthropology and cultural studies: The final panel in this section will study cultural elements of populism and illiberalism both on the demand and the supply side of populism in CEE. We will explore historically embedded cultural scripts such as identity narratives and national myths that populists deploy to achieve discursive power. Moreover, we will look at how ordinary Europeans see the ‘populist promise’ from inside of their own cultures. To this end, we invite papers using ethnographic and constructivist approaches.
Code Title Details
P008 A Rotten Romance: Populism, Gender and Civil Society in CEE and the Balkans View Panel Details
P032 Between Demand and Supply: Reasons for populist success in CEE View Panel Details
P120 Economic policy in Central and Eastern Europe in times of populism View Panel Details
P204 Interdisciplinary approaches to Central and Eastern Europe as an ‘area’ in/of Europe View Panel Details
P314 Political economy approaches to populism in CEE View Panel Details
P334 Populist discourses: Constructing and representing antagonisms in CEE populism View Panel Details
P336 Populist societies: Getting active in CEE View Panel Details
P337 Populist success stories: Memory, myth, and narrative in Central and Eastern European populism View Panel Details