Roundtable on Populism (ASEEES Annual Convention 2017)

ASEEES 2017 Chicago

Roundtable on Populism (ASEEES Annual Convention 2017)

Cosima Glahn
Freie Universität Berlin

Thanks to the University Consortium, a round table on "Populism in Eastern Europe" was organized for this year's Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) Annual Convention 2017, taking place in Chicago. The event was chaired by Prof. Dr. Klaus Segbers from Freie Universität Berlin, one of the University Consortium partners for the project's first phase.

Accompanying Prof Segbers, Prof. Dr. Irina Busygina from Higher School of Economics in St. Petersburg and Cosima Glahn, research assistant at Freie Universität Berlin, together participated and discussed current developments concerning populist rhetoric and actors. Unfortunately, Prof. Dr. Andrey Makarychev from the University of Tartu and Dr. Daniel Hegedüs were unable to attend the roundtable due to flight cancellations. However, roundtable participants and the audience managed to engage in a lively and interactive debate. Prof. Segbers first gave an input on the current global context, which has to be taken into account when one wants to understand the success of populism in (Eastern) Europe. The speakers then started their individual analysis from a conceptual angle, trying to define what the core elements and definitional features of the concept of populism actually are. This is a crucial step, as otherwise a comparison of various forms of populism(s) among such a heterogenous group of East European countries - and beyond - would not be possible. While Prof. Irina Busygina focused her analysis on Russia, Cosima Glahn tried to give a broader overview of populist actors and their developments within the EU. After opening the discussion to the audience and a short Q&A session, explaining the current support for populist actors has been highly contested among the visitors of the session and various variables have been assessed according to their explanatory strength. Interestingly, although the event had the goal to mainly focus on Eastern Europe, audience members frequently referred to a comparison with the US case. This shows that the phenomenon, although in its manifestations is of course specific to a certain region and country, seems to be on the rise globally and will probably characterize the political landscape of many countries all over the world in the next decades.