Thursday, 27 October 2011

Soros' Open Society Foundation is hosting an event in Brussels on November 7 called: “We say what you think”: Is populism the future of European politics?

Extracts from the event description and programme:
This event will introduce new research about on-line populism in Europe. Based on the first ever large-scale survey of over 10,000 on-line sympathisers of populist parties and movements across Europe, it reveals new insights into their motivations, attitudes, behaviour, and what has turned them off mainstream politics. The results also indicate how many are “keyboard warriors”, what motivates them to take to the streets, and what the relationship is between online and offline activism. Our aim is to encourage all politicians to consider how better to respond to the concerns of voters attracted to on-line populism.

Is populism winning the debate on identity, multiculturalism, and immigration?

Across Europe there appears to be growing resentment about ‘failed multiculturalism’ and
the effect immigration is having on local and national traditions and identity. Populist parties seem to be responding more effectively to voter concerns about these issues, often by framing issues in the context of traditional European values of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Panellists will consider the implications of the Demos survey, and how progressive politicians can respond better to worries about identity without alienating their party base. Should the role of progressive politics be to follow or lead public opinion?

Who are the ‘reluctant radicals’ who share some progressive values but not others? How do
these questions vary from country to country? How are new forms of on-line
communication changing the contours of this debate?

Speakers: Emine Bozkurt, MEP
Matthew Collins, Searchlight
Ken Dryden, former Canadian Minister of Social Development
David Goodhart, Prospect Magazine
Sunder Katwala, British Future
Douglas Murray, Henry Jackson Society

Is the collapse of trust in mainstream politicians the fuel for populism across Europe?

The Demos research suggests that on-line populist activists have disproportionately high
levels of distrust in several political institutions – especially elected officials. This makes an effective response difficult. Panellists will consider the following questions: How important is anti-establishment sentiment to populist groups, and can they sustain their popularity if they grow in size? How can trust in political institutions be reversed? What institutions are most critical to change?

Speakers: Pervenche Berès, MEP
Matthew Goodwin, University of Nottingham
Péter Krekó, Political Capital Institute
Claus Leggewie, Institute for Advanced Studies in Humanities
Hannes Swoboda, MEP
Paul Taggart, University of Sussex

How are social media changing the way social movements operate?
Social media have become more important as a means of forming, organising and recruiting
to extremist causes of all types. It is also credited with helping create progressive, liberating social movements. So how to respond? A growing number of people are radicalised on-line, but it is difficult for governments to respond without disproportionately cracking down on legitimate dissent and open debate. Are there potential opportunities for new forms of responses through social media?

Speakers: Jamie Bartlett, Demos
Dan Hind, Author of “The Return of the Public” and expert on digital public
Loz Kaye, UK Pirate Party



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