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Photo: “Election posters for EU Parliament election in Luxembourg, various“, by Bdx, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. Hue modified from the original

Kriesi, Hanspeter. “The populist challenge.” West European Politics 37, no. 2 (2014): 361-378.


Populism has been on the rise for some time in Europe now, and its rise has been one of the key concerns of Peter Mair. He has linked it to the increasing erosion of the representative function of European party systems. The spectre that haunted him was ‘partyless democracy’, a democratic regime where parties had lost their representative function, which opened the door for unmediated populist protest. While largely sharing his interpretation of the overall structural trends giving rise to the populist challenges in Western Europe, the article is critical of the static character of his assessment. It suggests that there are three forms of ‘protest populism’, all of which may eventually end up transforming the West European party systems in the name of the new structuring conflicts that characterise contemporary European societies. In addition, it proposes to extend the scope of Peter’s argument to the less established democracies of Central and Eastern Europe.

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.