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Populism, Ideology and Discourse in the Global South

Daphne Halikiopoulou

Daphne joined the department in January 2023 as Chair in Comparative Politics. She was previously Professor of Comparative Politics at the University of Reading. She gained her PhD from LSE (2007) where she also worked as a Fellow in Comparative Politics (2009-2012).

Daphne is interested in party politics and voting behaviour with a focus on the far right, populism and nationalism in Europe. She is the author of Understanding right-wing populism and what to do about it (with Tim Vlandas), The Golden Dawn’s ‘Nationalist Solution’: explaining the rise of the far right in Greece (with Sofia Vasilopoulou) and numerous articles on European far right parties. Her research appears in the European Journal of Political Research, West European Politics, Journal of Common Market Studies, European Political Science Review, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, Government and Opposition, Environmental Politics and Nations and Nationalism among others. Her article ‘Risks, Costs and Labour Markets: Explaining Cross-National Patterns of Far-Right Party Success in European Parliament Elections’ (with Tim Vlandas) has been awarded Best Paper from the American Political Science Association (APSA).

How do you perceive the general topic in relation to your hub, and how do you relate to other hubs?

The study of democracy is highly topical in the current political environment, with a number of forthcoming elections around the world. In this context, the overarching goal of our hub is to advance the study of populism, which is one of the most pressing issues we face. To do this, we need broader, both theoretical and empirical, ways of addressing populism, a challenge that is now no longer case-specific, but rather a broad challenge across the board. I believe there are five pillars to the work we want to do at the hub. First, we want to take a comparative perspective, especially in terms of engaging with theories from the Global South. Second, we all believe that this project has an international reach, which means that we will hopefully be able to draw on different sources of knowledge to identify broader patterns of populism around the world. Third, I see our work as inherently interdisciplinary in that we are encouraging a variety of approaches that could complement each other. Fourth, and building on the previous points, we seek diversity so that we can engage with, compare and contrast new viewpoints and ideas in order to forge lasting collaborations. Finally, I think we all want the work of the hub to have a real impact, because populism is a genuine challenge with serious implications. I think that through our dissemination strategy, the findings of the project should be able to have an impact beyond academia and support some ways of strengthening democracy.

How do you relate to other hubs?

The project itself is a broad umbrella of challenges to democracy from different approaches and different perspectives. So I think everything I’ve mentioned before, the question of comparability, interdisciplinarity, diversity, impact, they all depend very much on how much we’re able to create synergies between the different centers. I believe that the way to do that is to identify certain common themes that might cut across the different hubs, and from that to identify important questions and puzzles.