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Comparative Populism Project

This project brings together CEU and international scholars working on topics related to populism across different disciplinary traditions. The aim was to build up a comparative database on the varieties of populist politics and policies across the European region from the end of the Cold War to explore the connections between populism on the one hand and gender, law, foreign policy, and party politics on the other. By joining the different methodological skills and perspectives across the different academic units, the project team developed a multi-faceted understanding of why populism manifests more strongly in some countries than others, why it takes on social conservative dimension in some places and more nationalist/nativist dimension in others, and how all of this connects to gender, the law, foreign policy, public administration and party systems. CEU’s international students have served as expert coders for our database of chief executives (presidents and prime ministers), measuring the presence of populist, nationalist/nativist and social conservative discourses in the speeches of 31 the leaders of European and North American countries over the past 20 years. Since the first phase of our work, we have expanded the scope of the investigation in two ways. First, we have extended our gaze backward to the interwar period (including connections between populism and fascism). Second, we extended our focus beyond the region to other regions notable for populist politics, mainly Latin America to arrive at more generalizable conclusions about the function of populism in public policy, party politics, public administration, the law and foreign policy.