1 September 2011


Professor Matthew Goodwin

Visiting Senior Fellow, Europe Programme


  • Populist extremist parties (PEPs) present one of the most pressing challenges to European democracies, but their appeal and the profile of their supporters remain poorly understood.
  • This report examines what is causing citizens across Europe to shift support behind populist extremists and recommends how mainstream political parties can respond to the challenge. 
  • PEPs have spent much of the past two decades exchanging strategies, ideas and best practice. This has enabled them to respond to new issues and events more innovatively and effectively than the established parties. 
  • Until the mainstream parties similarly begin to exchange lessons, root their responses in the evidence and address the actual anxieties of PEP voters, populist extremists will continue to rally support among a new generation of citizens. 
  • If politicians and policymakers are to meet this challenge, they need to radically rethink their current approach to populist extremism.
Project: Understanding and Dealing with the Spread of Populist Extremism in Europe