Assessing varieties of populism: From Europe to Asia

Assessing varieties of populism: From Europe to Asia

Wednesday, 1 March 2017 - 5:00pm
Seminar Room, European Studies Centre, 70 Woodstock Road, Oxford OX2 6HR
Yaprak Gürsoy (St Antony’s College, Oxford)
Karolina Wigura (St Antony’s College, Oxford)
Othon Anastasakis (St Antony’s College, Oxford); Adis Merdzanovic (St Antony’s College, Oxford)
Michael Freeden (Mansfield College, Oxford)

SEESOX Seminar Series
The rise of illiberalism in South East Europe
The current European crises appear to have facilitated the (re-)emergence of illiberalism as a viable alternative for political elites, both within the European Union and on its periphery. Arguably, this effect has been greater in transition countries that found their path towards liberal democracy disrupted, as well as in countries that already face internal challenges in terms of their legal, political, social, or economic environments. The seminar series will look at the conditions that allow illiberal ideas to infiltrate and illiberal practices to develop; how such ideas are expressed and instrumentalised in different fields of social interaction; their impact on politics and economics; and, finally, what, if any, counter-reactions they have produced. Are these temporary setbacks caused by the crises, or a frustration with the European Union and certain of its policies? Or are we witnessing a profound and longer-lasting challenge to the primacy of the liberal democratic model?

The literature on populism in Europe, the USA, and Latin America has studied populist parties on three dimensions, namely their ideologies, their stance on the economy and organisational characteristics. In this seminar, Dr. Gürsoy re-assesses the literature and examines three cases outside of the frequently analysed regions, namely Turkey, Thailand and India. She argues that the literature's categorisation of populism is insufficient to explain the Thais Love Thais Party (TRT) and its successors in Thailand, the People’s Party (BJP) in India, and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey. These parties are nationalist similar to the extreme right parties in Europe, but they do not make immigration their core issue. They have strong emphasis on neo-liberal economic policies, but unlike ideologically similar Latin American parties, they do not have thin party organisations. Instead, to counterbalance state power and the establishment elite, they socially mobilise their party members and supporters, similar to the classical populists of the 1950s and 1960s in Latin America. 

Yaprak Gürsoy is an associate professor in the Department of International Relations at Istanbul Bilgi University. She serves as the vice-president of the International Political Science Association (IPSA) Research Committee on Armed Forces and Society. She is one of the assistant editors of the journal Uluslararası Ilişkiler, the most prominent indexed Turkish journal on international relations. Dr. Gürsoy is also a 2016 recipient of the Science Academy’s Young Scientist Award (BAGEP) given to promising Turkish scientists. After completing her PhD in politics at the University of Virginia, Dr. Gürsoy has worked on regime change and consolidation, democratization, civil-military relations and coup d’états. Dr. Gürsoy’s recent book, Between Military Rule and Democracy: Regime Consolidation in Greece, Turkey, and Beyond (University of Michigan Press, forthcoming in 2017), asks how authoritarian and democratic regimes originate in countries where the military is a significant political actor. As an academic visitor at St Antony's College, Dr. Gürsoy works on a new research project on populist political parties in Turkey, India and Thailand. She studies the reasons for the similarities and differences between Asian populisms and their European and Latin American counterparts.

Michael Freeden is Emeritus Professor of Politics, University of Oxford, where among others he founded and directed the Centre for Political Ideologies; and an Emeritus Professorial Fellow, Mansfield College Oxford, where he taught from 1978 to 2011. He was a Professor of Political Theory at the University of Nottingham from 2013 to 2015. Between 2004 and 2007 he was an ESRC Professorial Fellow. He is currently a Professorial Research Associate at in the Department of Politics and International Studies at SOAS, University of London. He is the founder-editor of the Journal of Political Ideologies. He has been awarded the Sir Isaiah Berlin Prize for Lifetime Contribution to Political Studies by the UK Political Studies Association, and the Medal for Science, Institute of Advanced Studies, Bologna University.