Rowman and Littlefield International

The Populist Signal

Why Politics and Democracy Need to Change

By Claudia Chwalisz

This book gathers together new survey data, interviews and case studies to explore the rise of populism and the need for democratic change across Britain and Europe.

Paperback ISBN: 9781783485420 Release date: Jun 2015
£9.95 €14.00 $19.00
Ebook ISBN: 9781783485437 Release date: Jun 2015
£9.95 €14.00 $18.00

Pages: 120

Policy Network

The social and economic shifts of the past few decades have hardened deeply held scepticism and distrust of ‘the establishment’. In an age of historically low party membership and identification, voter volatility, rising abstentionism and greater individualism, mainstream parties are struggling to be representative.

This book is about the turbulent political scene unfolding in Britain and across western Europe. It focuses on why large swathes of voters feel that politics does not work and how this fuels support for insurgent parties and actors. Drawing on new survey data in the UK, interviews and international case studies, this book shows that people are concerned with the process of politics, not merely its performance. They have a genuine desire for greater political participation in the decision-making process.


Setting out a range of democratic innovations to reconnect people with politics, it contends that populism is a warning signal to parties and governments to revisit their approaches to governance and representation. New forms of political engagement should not feel like a threat to formal political systems, but rather as much-needed additions that enrich democracy.

Executive summary / 1. Introduction / 2. The political drivers of populism / 3. Democratic innovations: Deliberative mini-publics, random selection and new forms of digital engagement / 3. Democratic innovations in practice: Exemplary case studies from around the world / 4. Conclusion / References

Claudia Chwalisz is a Consultant at Populus and a Crook Public Service Fellow at the Crick Centre, The University of Sheffield. She is the author of The Populist Signal: Why Politics and Democracy Need to Change (2015).

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