Social and economic origins of populism

Populism is more than a political buzzword – it is a topic of highest sociopolitical relevance that will form our society for years to come. Headlines on how populism is casting its shadow over the world, once again, are spread across the media. Radical-right parties are pushing anti-immigration and anti-establishment messages across Europe and are resurging in Australia, Israel, Japan, and in other countries around the world. On the other side of the political spectrum, left-wing populists are following their own agenda – such as the Podemos movement in Spain or the left-wing populist governments in Latin American countries such as Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia.

But what is populism and how can we assess populism and its consequences? To understand and address this multifaceted phenomenon, we need to dig deeper and identify its causes. Can we explain today’s rise of populism with legitimate economic grievances or does it have its roots in a cultural backlash against liberalism and immigration? What are the economic consequences of populism: progress, stagnation, or regression? How should we address the challenges related to the rise of populism? These questions take center stage at this year’s forum, where experts from academia, politics, and business will share new findings and discuss key insights on how to deal with this multidimensional phenomenon.

In the opening keynote, Thorsten Persson (Stockholm University) will present new findings on the rise of the radical right in Sweden, explaining how changing socioeconomic fortunes are linked to the supply and demand of politicians on the radical right.