81771 - Democracy and Populism in Europe

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

The course aims to give a thorough understanding of the changing nature of democracy in Europe, mainly as a consequence of the rise of populism, in its various forms. At the end of the course, students will be able to grasp the correct use of the concept of populism, as well as to understand the meaning of the rise of euroscepticism

Course contents

The course is organized according to the model of the Structured Seminar. The course is composed by 10 hours taught online weekly in 1-hour slots that prepare the seminar and by classes organized as seminars that will be held in presence in 10 meetings (3 hours per meeting). Students are required to carefully read the assigned material before the class and active participation through presentations of existing scholarship and case studies will also be expected. Regardless of the health-related conditions and the specific organization of the course, students will be able to follow the lessons of the entire course remotely on MS TEAMS. The seminar organization is detailed in the program that follows.




Students who have no previous knowledge of European politics should read:

1) T. Bale, European Politics. A comparative introduction, Basingstoke, Palgrave, 2014, ch. 4-7

2) E. Jones, et al. Developments in European Politics 2, Basingstoke, Palgrave, 2011, ch. 4-7

La maggior parte del materiale si trova poi in due risorse, entrambe disponibili online:

  • Oxford Handbook of Populism, (edited by Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser, Paul Taggart, Paulina Ochoa Espejo, and Pierre Ostiguy, Oxf. University Press; OHP henceforth, available online, https://www-oxfordhandbooks-com.ezproxy.unibo.it/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780198803560.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780198803560 and in print copies in the Library, OHP henceforth).
  • And in the ‘Journal of Democracy’ (JoD, henceforth), also available online (https://muse-jhu-edu.ezproxy.unibo.it/journal/98 ), and in print copy in the Library

Il syllabus sarà presentato in classe. Le letture andranno fatte prima di ogni incontro settimanale.

Weeks 1/2


W. Galston The Populist Challenge to Liberal Democracy, 2018

S. Repucci A. Slipowitz, Democracy in a year of Crisis, Journal of Democracy, 2021, n. 2, 45-60



C. Mudde, Populism: an ideational approach

S. Rummens, Populism as a threat to Liberal Democracy

W. Muller, Populism and Constitutionalism

C. de la Torre, Populism in Latin America

Additional reading to be used also in following weeks (all journals available online)

N. Urbinati, Political Theory of Populism, Annual Review of Political Science 2019 22:1, 111-127

H. Kriesi, The populist challenge, in West European Politics, 2014, vol. 37, 2, pp. 361-378.

P.Corduwener, Integrating contemporary populism with the history of democracy in Western Europe, European Political Science, vol. 16, 2017, pp. 206-216


Week 3:Populism and the media

L. Manucci, Populism and the media, OHP

S. Waisboard, The elective affinity between post-truth communication and populist politics, s, Communication Research and Practice, 2018

B. Moffitt, How to Perform Crisis: A Model for Understanding the Key Role of Crisis in Contemporary Populism, Government and Opposition, 2015



Week 4: Online workshop on Populism and the Reconfigufing of European Identities

Blühdorn, I and Butzlaff, F (2019) Rethinking Populism: Peak Democracy, Liquid Identity and the Performance of Sovereignty. European Journal of Social Theory 22(2), 191–21

Hopkin, J and Blyth, M (2019) The Global Economics of European Populism: Growth Regimes and Party System Change in Europe. Government and Opposition: 54(2), 193–225

G. Baldini- M. Giglioli (2020), Bread or Circuses? Repoliticization in the Italian Populist Government Experience, Government and Opposition, onlinefirst

Week 5:Populism, religion, moralism

J.P. Zuquete, Populism and Religion, OHP

[for students who read Italian see also L. Zanatta, Il populismo gesuita. Peron, Fidel, Bergoglio, Laterza 2020]

J. W. Müller, Democracy and disrespect, Philosophy and Social Criticism 2019, Vol. 45(9-10) 1208–1221

Selected chapters from:

Saving the people: how populists hijack religion / Nadia Marzouki, Duncan McDonnell, Olivier Roy (editors)
London : C. Hurst & Co. Ltd., 2016

Week 6 Populism West & East


P. Taggart, Populism in Western Europe, B. Stanley,Populism in Eastern Europe


J. Rupnik, The Specter Hunting Europe: Surging Illiberalism in the East, 2016

__The Crisis of Liberalism, 2018;

Week 7: Populism and Euroscepticism

M. Rooduijn, S. van Kessel Populism and Euroskepticism in the European Union, OXFORD RESEARCH ENCYCLOPEDIA, POLITICS, August 2019

A. Pirro, P. Taggart, The populist politics of Euroscepticism in times of crisis: A framework for analysis, Politics, 2018


Week 8: Populism and Technocracy

C. Bickerton, C. Invernizzi-Accetti, Populism and technocracy, in OHP

Caramani, D. (2017) ‘Will vs. Reason: The Populist and Technocratic Forms of Political Representation and Their Critique to Party Government’, American Political Science Review, 111, 54–67.

Weeks 9/10: Populism, Nationalism and the Pandemic

R. Brubaker, (2017) Why Populism? Theory and Society 46, 357–385.

R. Brubaker, (2020), Populism and Nationalism, Nations and Nationalism, 1, 44-66

F. Bieber, Global Nationalism in Times of the COVID-19 Pandemic Florian Bieber, Nationalities Papers (2020), 1–13

M. Flinders, Democracy and the Politics of Coronavirus: Trust, Blame and Understanding, Parliamentary Affairs, (2020), onlinefirst

R. Brubaker, Paradoxes of Populism during the Pandemic, Thesis Eleven, 2020, https://thesiseleven.com/2020/07/13/paradoxes-of-populism-during-the-pandemic/


week 11, Democracy and populism in Europe (overview and comparative papers)

Reading tbc; see also

reading on national case studies from:

D. Albertazzi, D. Vampa, Populism and New Patterns of Political Competition in Western Europe, London, Routledge, 2021

H. Kriesi and T. Pappas (eds), European Populism in the Shadow of the Great Recession, Ecpr Press, 2015

Wolinetz-Zaslove, Absorbing the blow, Colchester, Ecpr Press, 2018

Teaching methods

The course is organized according to the model of the Structured Seminar.

The main part of the class will consist of a weekly 3-hour Seminar.

For further indications on methods as well as on the choice of the reading for the essays and presentation, the Instructor will agree on a specific calendar for online meetings with students who need further guidance.

The introductory meeting will further present the content and aims of the Seminar. As of week 2, the meetings will consist of discussions based on the readigns assignment, which all students need to read IN ADVANCE. During the last hour of the seminar, links with the following week will be provided, in the view of guiding through the readings and anticipating the issues for the discussion taking place in the following Seminar. 

During the first meeting, a calendar with individual presentations and assignments will be provided. Papers and presentations will have to be critically based and should NOT have a merely descriptive and summarizing nature. Each student will be presenting 3 short papers (one every three weeks).

Regardless of the health-related conditions and the specific organization of the course, students will be able to follow the lessons of the entire course remotely on MS TEAMS.

Assessment methods

Students’ evalaution will be assessed on:

  • quality of in class participation (20%)
  • quality of in class presentations (30%)
  • quality of the 3 short papers (50%)

Teaching tools

Group discussion

Powerpoint presentations

Office hours

See the website of Gianfranco Baldini