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Photo: “1.Mai“, by Sunjo licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. Hue modified from the original

De Cleen, Benjamin, Benjamin Moffitt, Panos Panayotu, and Yannis Stavrakakis. “The Potentials and Difficulties of Transnational Populism: The Case of the Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 (DiEM25).” Political Studies 68, no. 1 (2020): 146-166.


The Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 (DiEM25), launched by former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, seeks to construct a transnational left political project to ‘democratise Europe’. Its construction of a European ‘people’ against an international elite raises questions about the potentials of populism beyond the nation-state. Building on a discourse-theoretical distinction between populism and nationalism, the article asks whether DiEM25 is a truly transnational populist movement. Through an analysis of the movement’s manifestoes, speeches, press releases and published interviews with DiEM25 leaders, the article shows how DiEM25 constructs a ‘European people’ in opposition to an international ‘elite’, how DiEM25 oscillates between speaking for national ‘peoples’ and a transnational ‘people’, and how it negotiates its populism, nationalism and transnationalism. The article contributes to the theorisation of populism beyond the usually assumed nation-state level and shines a light on the potentials and limitations of transnational populism as an as-yet understudied political development.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.