Rethink Populism

with Sinem Adar, Oliviero Angeli, Israel Butler, and Ertuğ Tombuş

How can we better understand populism, a phenomenon we hear about so much these days?Welcome to “RETHINK POPULISM,” a Migration Matters series comprised of 13 bite-sized videos that will equip you with nuanced perspectives on the controversial topic of populism and its links to democracy, diversity, and human rights in Europe and Turkey.

Meet your experts for this “Rethink populism” series!

Meet your series experts: Dr. Oliviero Angeli from Forum MIDEM, Dr. Sinem Adar and Dr. Ertuğ Tombuş from Humboldt University, and Dr. Israel Butler from Civil Liberties Union for Europe.

What exactly is populism and is it even a useful term?

What is behind the term populism, and do we need it? Ertuğ gives us a primer for understanding populism and its link to democracy.

Can migration explain Europe’s right-wing populism?

Migration is often cited as both a problem to be solved and the cause of Europe’s right-wing populism. Oliviero addresses this common perception with research.

What does populism look like across Europe?

What are the differences between populist movements in various corners of Europe? Oliviero helps us understand the similarities and differences between populist leaders and parties in Germany, the Czech Republic, and Italy.

What can Turkey and Erdogan teach us about populism?

What is the so-called populist life cycle? Ertuğ uses the example of Turkey to detail the relationship between populism and authoritarianism as one of gradual evolution.

How do populists use diversity to win elections? Case of Turkey

Is it a coincidence that much of populist discourse in Europe focuses on Muslims? Sinem explores how populist parties use diversity as a tactical resource to mobilize voters, using Turkey as an example.

How do Erdogan and the AKP get votes from Turkish citizens abroad?

Those belonging to the Turkish diaspora in Europe can be criticized for continuing to vote for the AKP. Sinem explains why this is controversial and how Erdogan manages to court voters abroad.

How are academic institutions under threat in today’s Turkey?

How have Erdogan and the AKP limited academic freedom in Turkey and what does this mean for the right to knowledge inside (and outside) the country? Sinem and Ertuğ dive into the complexities behind the crack-down and its consequences.

What is populist authoritarianism? And is it a threat?

What is populist authoritarianism and how is it different from regular populism? We asked Israel to explain this term as well as the danger it poses to democracy and human rights.

What do we need to know about populist narratives?

Why are populist narratives so effective? Israel reveals the two emotions that populist messaging most often triggers and why populists have an inherent media advantage.

What can worldviews tell us about populist voters?

Are factors like age and education enough to understand why people vote for populists? Israel shares two worldviews common among populists as well as the benefits of the lens of social psychology.

How should progressives respond to populist narratives?

Can’t we just change people’s minds with the facts? Nope, says Israel Butler, author of the book Countering Populist Authoritarians. Israel lays out another way for progressives to respond to populist narratives.

How can human rights counter populist authoritarianism?

What are human rights and how can we harness them to stop the growth of populist authoritarianism? Israel shares suggestions for what government and civil society can do.

Meet the Experts

Sinem Adar speaking sitting at a table

Sinem Adar

Dr. Sinem Adar is a research associate at the Centre for Applied Turkey Studies at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik). An experienced fellow, Dr. Adar has a demonstrated history of working on citizenship, ethnic and religious politics in Turkey and the Middle East, and has a growing expertise in migration. She is skilled in policy analysis, qualitative research, research design, and lecturing. Dr. Adar holds a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Sociology from Brown University and a Master of Science in Development Studies from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Oliviero Angeli speaking in a room with tables

Oliviero Angeli

Dr. Oliviero Angeli is a political scientist and philosopher at the Technical University of Dresden. Before joining TU Dresden, he taught and conducted research at various institutions, including Scuola Normale Superiore (Pisa), Oxford University, and Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium. He holds a binational doctorate (cotutelle) from the University of Saarland and the University of Tours. Since 2017, he has served as the scientific coordinator of the research center ‘Mercator Forum Migration and Democracy’ (MIDEM). Dr. Angeli conducts research in various areas of political science and philosophy, with a particular focus on democratic theories and migration studies.

Israel Butler speaking in a room with tables

Israel Butler

Dr. Israel Butler works at the Civil Liberties Union for Europe, a pan-EU human rights watchdog dedicated to ensuring the EU promotes and protects democratic pluralism, the rule of law, and fundamental rights in its Member States. As Head of Advocacy, Israel frequently produces research analyzing challenges to the protection of civil liberties in the EU and proposes solutions that the EU could adopt through law and policy. He also assists activists and civil servants in promoting progressive causes to inform, persuade, and mobilize their target audiences. Dr. Butler began his career as a lecturer in EU law and international human rights law at the University of Lancaster and holds a PhD in law from the University of Nottingham.

Ertuğ Tombuş speaking sitting at a table

Ertuğ Tombuş

Dr. Ertuğ Tombuş is the deputy director of the Center for Comparative Research on Democracy and a research associate at the Institute for Social Sciences at Humboldt University in Berlin. From 2017 to 2020, he served as the academic coordinator of the Blickwechsel: Contemporary Turkey Studies Program at Humboldt University. He has been the managing editor of Constellations: An International Journal of Critical and Democratic Theory since 2009. His main teaching and research areas include democratic theories, politics and law, constitutional theory, comparative constitutionalism, populism, secularism, legal sociology, political sociology, contemporary social theory, and Turkish politics.