ASPS annual debate in Strasbourg

Each year, in the sidelines of the World Forum for Democracy, the Association of Schools of Political Studies organises a public debate in the city of Strasbourg, open to school participants, alumni, members of European and local institutions as well as the general public of Strasbourg.

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Public Debate 2017 – Populism: A force for good or ill?

Hosted by the École Régionale des Avocats du Grand Est (ERAGE) in Strasbourg, the Association of Schools of Political Studies held a debate on 9 November 2017 entitled "Populism: a force for good or ill?" The flyer can be found here.

Populist parties have cemented their place in the European political spectrum by stressing simplistic versions of reality and the myth of giving power back to the people. Can populism ever have an invigorating effect on democracy? Or is it a force working against the people, destined to undermine the European project and distort the democratic functioning of modern states?

Speakers:
Catherine Lalumière (France) – President of the Association of Schools of Political Studies and former Secretary General of the Council of Europe
Ana Gomes (Portugal) – Member of the European Parliament
Krzysztof Bobinski (Poland) – President of the Unia & Polska Foundation
Emil Pain (Russia) – Professor of Economics, National Research University in Moscow
Quentin Peel (United Kingdom) – Associate fellow of the Europe Programme at Chatham House

Moderator:
Fernanda Gabriel (Portugal) – Radio-Televisão Portuguesa

Following the presentations by our five speakers on the situation of populism in their own countries, the debate was opened up to the audience and a lively discussion ensued. Topics included the question of whether populism can be defined and understood in the same way in "old" or western democracies and "new" or post-Soviet democracies. In addition, in countries which are not pluralist democracies at all, can populism even be said to exist at all? On the occasion of the 28th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, some parallels were made between the populism of the late 1980s which arguably had a positive impact, leading the fall of many communist regimes across Europe, and the more ambiguous form of populism taking hold today.

Public Debate 2016 – Democracy and Populism

On 8 November 2016 in the city centre of Strasbourg, the Association of Schools of Political Studies held a public debate on the question of populism and democracy. It was held in the École Régionale des Avocats du Grand Est (ERAGE) with support from the City of Strasbourg.

Fuelled by simplistic lies, misrepresentation and rabble-rousing rhetoric based on the myth of giving power back to the people, populism is increasingly colouring public debate and threatening democracy in Europe and beyond. From Trump to Putin and from Brexit to Beppe Grillo, what exactly do we mean by “populism”?

Speakers:
David Buchan (United Kingdom) – Former director of office at Financial Times in Paris and Brussels
Andrzej Krajewski (Poland) – Journalist et broadcasting regulator (KRRiT)
Alberto Toscano (Italy) – Journalist and academic

Chair:
Catherine Lalumière (France) – President of the Association of Schools of Political Studies and former Secretary General of the Council of Europe

The debate was interpreted from and into English, French and Russian, allowing a lively exchange between speakers and participants. Discussions focused particularly on the following questions:  Is populism an inevitable consequence of pluralism or just a temporary disease affecting democracy? What can be done to counter populist discourse and disinformation? How have the stigmatisation of refugees, negative stereotyping of migrants and trivialisation of racism and xenophobia contributed to populism?