The new populism. Threat or Opportunity?

DEBATE

Produced by the Institute of Ideas, London
A Battle of Ideas satellite event

The rejection of Matteo Renzi’s constitutional reforms, the vote for Brexit and the election of Donald Trump are widely seen as signs of a surge of ‘populism’. The concept is often used in a pejorative way, linked with notions such as racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia. Yet in the past, populist movements were often seen as left-wing, expressing animosity towards a corrupt elite. Recent political phenomena such as Syriza, Podemos and the Five Star Movement, and the successes of Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn, show the complexity of the movements that have emerged as the old politics decays.  Why are the traditional parties of both left and right in decline? Why do mainstream politicians seem unable to engage the public through open debate? Are populist movements merely ‘morbid symptoms’ of a decadent political order or harbingers of a democratic renewal?