Grassroots Unrest in Europe and the Erosion of Liberal Democracy

Join us for a crucial conversation about the state of European democracies. In recent years, the very foundation of liberal-democratic models in Europe has been tested by various tumultuous events. From the illiberal turns in governance witnessed in Poland and Hungary to the existential crises posed by the migration crisis and Brexit, European nations are grappling with their identity and global roles. While grassroots politics and citizen mobilization are fundamental to democracy, there’s a growing concern that discontent with liberal democracy may lead to democratic erosion.

From an exploration of new theoretical frameworks of analysis, to traversing the lived experiences of people at the grassroots level of European democracies, this conference convenes international experts for a series of panel discussions that address the mounting dissatisfaction among citizens.

Friday, November 3, 2023

8:30 – 17:30

Elliott School of International Affairs Room 602
Washington D.C. 20052

Opening Remarks

Marlene Laruelle, The George Washington University

8:45 – 9:15
Keynote speech by
Clara Mattei, The New School, author of The Capital Order: How Economists Invented Austerity and Paved the Way to Fascism

Panel I:
Central Europe, a Laboratory for Challenges to Democracy and Liberalism

Chair: Luke March, University of Edinburgh

Petra Guasti, Charles University
Mobilisation For and Against Liberal Democracy in Central Europe

Aleš Michal, Charles University
Dynamics of the Demand Side of Contemporary Czech Anti-System Protest Mobilization

Ben Stanley, Center for the Study of Democracy
Lip-service Liberalism? Declared and Revealed Attitudes to Democracy in Poland

Keith Prushankin, Freie Universität Berlin
How to Break a State: How Populists Challenge the Liberal Order in Post-Communist Central Europe

10.45 – 11:15
Coffee break

11:15 – 12:45
Panel II: Drivers of Dissent
Chair: Gulnaz Sibgatullina, University of Amsterdam

Josh Vandiver, University of Colorado
Grassroots Masculinism

Mikko Salmela, University of Copenhagen, Gulnaz Sharafutdinova, Kings College London, and Christian von Scheve, Freie Universität Berlin
What is Collective Ressentiment?

Sang Kyung Lee, The George Washington University
Inequality and the Crisis of Democracy

Jose Pedro Zúquete, ICS University of Lisbon
The Great Reset, its Opponents, and Democracy

12:45 – 13:30 Lunch

13:30 – 14:00
Keynote speech by
James Ball, Demos, author of The Other Pandemic: How QAnon Contaminated the World

14:00 – 15:30

Panel III: The Minorities Mirror: The Core Tension of Exclusivness/Inclusivness

Chair: Petra Guasti, Charles University

Luke March, University of Edinburgh
Movement Parties and the Radical Left: New Radical Democracy or Transitional Forms of Party Organisation?

Gulnaz Sibgatullina, University of Amsterdam
Opportunism or Ideological Convergence? Evolving Stances of European (Far-Right) Parties Toward Muslims

Courtney Blackington, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Disseminating Disgust: Disgust Rhetoric & Protest against Stigmatized Minority Groups

Roman Hlatky, University of North Texas
Revenge Revisited: The Representation of Ethnic Minorities, Resentment, and Radical Right Electoral Success

15:30 – 16:00 Coffee break

16:00 – 17:30

Panel IV: Conceptual Perspectives
Chair: Marlene Laruelle, The George Washington University

Antonio Campati, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of Milan
Illiberalism and Political Representation: The Pluralism and the future of Liberal Democracy in Europe

Mikhail Zabotkin, Freie Universität Berlin
Friend or Foe? Conservative Parties, Populism, and Liberal Democracy

Alexander J. Klein, Freie Universität Berlin
To Exclude or to Enlighten? On the Use of Civilizational Discourse by Liberal EU Actors

Jack Thompson, University of Amsterdam
Identifying Informal Illiberalism: Toward a Typology of Norm Erosion