Our research hypothesises that contemporary populism is a reaction to the anomalies and (unintended) consequences of globalisation as well as a symptom of the crisis of established politics and deficiencies of mainstream political elites (both at national and European level). Populists utilize different media channels that often serve for spreading disinformation. Although populism claims to be in the service of ordinary people, it is due to its rejection of pluralism and division of power detrimental for development of liberal type of democracy. Furthermore, with its more or less explicit anti-Europeanism, it is problematic from the perspective of the future development of the European Union as common institutional setting.
Maintaining, strengthening and legitimising European democracy requires improving the institutional effectiveness of terms of capacity for problem-solving, responsiveness and accountability toward the citizenry as well as strengthening European identity, based on existing European cultural heritage. This calls for a close cooperation between political and other actors from different levels (European, national, local). Only the revitalisation of democracy in the form of a combination of participative and representative aspects with the active role of citizens and, above all, the EU’s role as a more pro-active global player could make populist claims less attractive.
In this regard, the Chair intends to integrate knowledge on recent political developments in the European Union, particularly the impact of populist tendencies on its future development, into Chair curricula and by connecting academic staff and students with the international academic environment and the local and national stakeholders, including the local communities, civil society and decision makers with corresponding activities encouraging public debates on local, national and transnational level, and between different stakeholders on the topic. Namely, phenomena like populist politics should be studied and considered from different points of view, various sources must be taken into account in order to avoid ideological and subjective biases.