Deliberative Democracy and Populism: A (Mis)match?

We warmly invite paper proposals for the panel “Deliberative Democracy and Populism: A (Mis)match?” for the section on “Democratic Innovations: Meeting Great Expectations?” at the ECPR General Conference, Hamburg, 22-25 August 2018. Please find the panel description below. The panel is co-chaired by André Bächtiger (University of Stuttgart) and Ine Goovaerts (University of Leuven).

Panel description

During the past decades, we have seen an increasing popularity and success of (radical) populist leaders and parties all over the world. These leaders and parties are often seen as posing a threat to the values of (liberal) democracy. One of the reasons, amongst others, is their ideology and rhetoric of exclusion of certain groups in society. At the same time, the past decades have also been characterized by a broad diversity of democratic innovations being theorized and implemented all over the world in order to strengthen democracy. Normative thinking about how to improve democracy has been at the heart of deliberative democratic theory. While there are plenty of successful examples deepening engagement with democracy, the current trend towards the rise of extreme (left- and right-wing) populism does raise some questions about what these democratic innovations can achieve.

Against this backdrop, the panel stimulates a discussion about the relationship between deliberative democratic theory and populism. Is there a link between these two, and if so, what does this link look like? Do they only oppose each other, or do they share some common elements or goals? And what kind of potential do the normative principles of deliberative democracy have in order to deal with radical forms of populism? These are only a couple of general questions that fit into the panel’s main objective: presenting a set of contributions that combines normative thinking about deliberative democracy and empirical research related to populism. Consistently, this panel warmly invites papers that offer insights into the seeming paradox between the rise of democratic innovations in political theory on the one hand, and the rise of populism in practice on the other.


Please send paper proposals by 31 January to André Bächtiger ( and Ine Goovaerts (