Mainstreaming Populism in the Twenty-first Century (MAPO)

Main funder

Funder's project number: 309550

Funds granted by main funder (€)

  • 259 000,00

Funding program

Project timetable

Project start date: 01/09/2017

Project end date: 31/08/2021


Antagonistic populistic style is fast becoming the “only game in town” as mainstream politicians and parties colour their policies increasingly with a clearly populist streak. The populist mode flourishes in public discussions, while populist parties are governing some countries and determining the political agendas in many others. One may ask what does the rise of populism mean for the idea of (liberal) democracy?

MAPO aims to investigate, map and discuss different forms of mainstreaming of populism in Europe and the Americas with the help of case studies and employment of comparative perspective. We take as our hypothesis that populism is a process, logic of articulation, rather than a simple category, and therefore our research questions seek to explore when, where and to what extent the mainstreaming processes take place. We investigate three types of mainstreaming: (1) mainstreaming the left and right populist parties themselves, (2) the other (mainstream) parties adopting populist logic of articulation, and (3) the transformation of the populist mode to public debates and the media.

The research questions of the project are respectively: RQ1. To what extent, when and where populist parties or movements become more moderate, reducing or losing their populism, or transform in style of their populism? RQ2. To what extent, when and where the other parties adopt populist style or logic? RQ3. To what extent, when and where the public sphere becomes antagonistically divided? RQ4. How different mainstreaming forms of populism transform democracy? To answer the research questions the project explores different forms of populism in Finland, Sweden, France, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Poland, the UK, Belgium, Hungary, Spain, Greece, Turkey, the US, Argentina and Venezuela.

The research is divided into four work packages (WPs) emphasizing different mainstreaming processes and research questions. However, one WP consists of a comparative study of all the countries. Each WP is run by a particular consortium partner. The University of Helsinki is responsible of the WP1 in which the comparative analysis of all countries is carried on as well as of the WP4 in which the overall influence of populism on democracies is studied. The University of Turku runs the WP2 in which the transformation of political movements is studied, and the University of Jyväskylä is responsible for the WP3 that focuses on cultural effects of mainstreaming populism.

Principal Investigator

Other persons related to this project (JYU)

Primary responsible unit

Related publications

Last updated on 2021-11-10 at 13:22