Chatham House Primer: National Populism

Professor Matthew Goodwin sets out the roots, rise and impact of national populism in Western democracies.

Members event, Panel Recording
24 October 2018 — 6:00PM TO 7:00PM
Chatham House | 10 St James's Square | London | SW1Y 4LE

In a number of countries traditionally seen as part of the democratic, liberal international order, public polling reflects a growing tranche of the electorate feel excluded, alienated from mainstream politics and increasingly anxious about rapid societal, demographic and economic change.

For many of these voters, national populist movements provide a political expression for these fears and frustrations and this has been reflected in recent elections in Austria, France, Germany, Italy and Sweden.

Matthew Goodwin, author of the new book National Populism: The Revolt Against Liberal Democracy sets out the roots, rise and impact of national populism in Western democracies. He explores whether oft-quoted narrative explanations for the rise of national populism and the assumed motivations of its leaders and supporters stand up to critical scrutiny.

The talk covers:

  • The core elements of national populist ideology and how it differs from fascism

  • The four, deep-rooted, long-term trends pushing national populism forward

  • How political systems, particularly in Europe, are changing in a fundamental and perhaps irreversible way

  • Who is voting for these parties and why popular stereotypes are misleading

  • How these parties are impacting on mainstream political discourse

  • Is centrist politics a thing of the past?

About Chatham House Primers
The Chatham House Primer Series is a unique programme of talks designed to bridge the gap between introductory level subject knowledge and a more advanced understanding geared towards practical application, higher-level discussion and policy debate.

With each talk hosted by a leading expert, the Primer series aims to provide the audience with a solid grounding in topics of academic curiosity, key international affairs concepts and the issues behind the news.


Professor Matthew Goodwin, Politics and International Relations, University of Kent; Associate Fellow, Europe Programme, Chatham House

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