´The New Face of Digital Populism´, vv.aa.

The New Face of Digital Populism

December 21, 2011
Jamie Bartlett, Jonathan Birdwell, Mark Littler

Populist parties and movements are now a force to be reckoned with in many Western European countries. These groups are known for their opposition to immigration, their "anti-establishment" views, and their concern for protecting national culture. Their rise in popularity has gone hand-in-hand with the advent of social media, and they are adept at using new technology to amplify their message, recruit, and organize.

The online social media following for many of these parties dwarfs the formal membership, consisting of tens of thousands of sympathizers and supporters. This mélange of virtual and real political activity is the way millions of people—especially young people—relate to politics in the 21st century.

This is the first quantitative investigation into these digital populists, based on over 10,000 survey responses from 12 countries. It includes data on who they are, what they think and what motivates them to shift from virtual to real-world activism. It also provides new insight into how populism — and politics and political engagement more generally — is changing as a result of social media.

The New Face of Digital Populism, a publication of the UK think tank Demos, calls on mainstream politicians to respond to and address concerns over immigration and cultural identity without succumbing to xenophobic solutions. People must be encouraged to become actively involved in political and civic life, whatever their political persuasion—it is important to engage and debate forcefully with these parties and their supporters, not shut them out as beyond the pale.

The Open Society Foundations organized the conference “We Say What You Think: Is populism the Future of European Politics” in November 2011 to discuss the findings with policy makers, journalists and academics.

Need help downloading a file or playing a clip? Click here.

The New Face of Digital Populism
PDF Document - 607K
Download the complete 76-page report.

The New Face of Digital Populism: Press clips
PDF Document - 77K
Download a list of related press clips.

back to the top of the page
Related Information

Tolerance in Europe: How Can Young People Help?
Noel Selegzi
August 2, 2011
blog BLOG  
Young people can play a vital role in strengthening open society. That´s why we´re inviting them to submit proposals for innovative projects that help create a more inclusive Europe.

What´s Next for Norway?
Nazia Hussain
July 25, 2011
blog BLOG  
The recent attacks in Norway demonstrate that far-right groups in Europe have a lot more in common with extreme Islamist terror organizations than most are willing to admit.

A Victory in New York for the Rights of All Immigrants
Michelle T. Fei
June 6, 2011
blog BLOG  
New York governor Andrew Cuomo has announced he is pulling the state out of the mass deportation program known as Secure Communities.

Marmite and Migrants: Bad for Denmark?
Helene Irving
May 24, 2011
blog BLOG  
Denmark´s government has apparently taken issue with some foreign foods—and foreign cultures.

Case Watch: A European Victory for Immigrants´ Rights
Margot Dickson
May 19, 2011
blog BLOG  
Italy attempted to use the threat of prison sentences to pressure illegal immigrants to obey removal orders. But it ignored European law that demands a more proportional response from governments.

4-I-11, OSI