Representation Call for Papers

Special Issue: Minding the Gap? The Populist Surge and its Consequences for Representation


Special Issue Outline

Populist parties, both on the right and the left, have emerged and become institutionalized in many established democracies during the last two decades (e.g. Mudde 2007; Akkerman et al. 2016). Recent elections in Germany, Austria, France, and Greece, to name a few, have seen strong contention by populist parties. Donald Trump’s successful presidential campaign and the result of the Brexit vote are other examples of how important populism has become for contemporary democracies. While a lot of scholarly work has focused on explaining the advent of populist parties (e.g., Ivarsflaten 2005; Albertazzi & McDonnell 2008; Bornschier 2010; Ford & Goodwin 2014; Harteveld 2016;), this special issue is dedicated to investigate the consequences of the success of these parties -with a particular focus on questions of representation.

When discussing the relevance of populist parties, many scholars and commentators point to the
potential harm of these parties to liberal representative democracy (e.g., Mény & Surel 2002; Rupnik
2007; Mudde and Kaltwasser 2012). Without a doubt, they have a valid point. At the same time, it
could be argued that these parties simply close a representational gap for citizen groups that other
parties fail to represent. In contrast to early discussions of the phenomenon, especially in the media,
it seems that the electoral success of populist actors is not a mere consequence of protest against
established parties and the elite. Certain groups are no longer represented by established parties or,
at least, do no longer feel represented and are looking for electoral alternatives for reasons beyond
protest (e.g. van der Brug et al. 2000; Zhirkov 2014). The substantive content of these preferences
may constitute a challenge to liberal representative democracy but from a functional perspective —
and even in line with democratic theory emphasizing the relevance of representation (Urbinati and
Warren 2008)—they are not different to other political preferences.

These citizens might be part of underrepresented groups as, for instance, the self‐identified losers of
globalization as well as voters with non‐mainstream attitudes. While anti‐establishment attitudes
and critique of representative democracy in its current form as well as illiberal, nationalist, and
anti-immigration attitudes were always present in societies, quite often there was no or only limited
corresponding offer on the supply side by established parties (e.g., Meguid 2005; Art 2011). Hence,
populist parties might simply be the answer to a representational gap caused by up to then unmet
demand‐side preferences. Such representation might manifest in two ways: Populist parties might
represent these societal groups descriptively in terms of their own personnel, electoral candidates,
and MPs. Or, they might close a substantive gap in their programmatic offering, agenda‐setting, and
parliamentary decision making.

Whether populist parties indeed represent these ‘forgotten’ groups and individuals is, however, still
largely unclear as existing evidence refers to the situation before the major advent of populist
parties in recent years (e.g. Schain 2006; van Spanje 2010; Rooduijn et al. 2014; as one of few
exceptions: Huber and Ruth 2017). This verdict holds for both, the descriptive as well as the
substantive perspective. This special issue is aimed at, first, advancing our understanding of how
populism is affecting modern democracy and, second, shedding light on the contemporary state of
the quality of representation in advanced democracies in general.

Potential Contributions
This special issue welcomes contributions from scholars of populist parties, electoral research, and
of both descriptive and substantive representation. We are especially interested in comparative
work that is theoretically grounded and uses either rigorous quantitative or qualitative
methodology. Thus, the contributions to this special issue might investigate longitudinally or cross-sectionally

(a) which parts of society populist parties represent descriptively or substantively;
(b) whether populist parties influence policy making to the advantage of their voters, either directly
or by influencing other parties through ways of agenda‐setting or electoral competition;
(c) how other aspects of democracy, like turnout or satisfaction with democracy, institutions, or
actors, are affected by changes in representational quality due to the emergence of populist parties;
(d) how populist agenda‐setting might actually cause new representational gaps by silencing certain
demands linked to other issues in the public discourse.

There is no regional focus to the special issue; however, we primarily welcome work on established
democracies. Moreover, we invite scholarly work beyond the core institutions of representative
democracies addressing the role of populist parties, for example, looking at the role of populists in
referenda or any forms of new and informal kinds of representation.

As the timeline is rather tight, all proposal authors will be notified in January 2018. We plan to
organize an authors’ workshop—probably in Berlin or Vienna—to discuss the first drafts of the
papers in June 2018. Note that all papers will be subject to a rigorous peer‐review process in line
with the journal’s standards.

Akkerman, Tjitske, Sarah L. de Lange, and Matthijs Rooduijn, eds. 2016. Radical Right‐Wing Populist Parties in Western Europe: Into the Mainstream? London: Routledge.
Albertazzi, Danielle and McDonnell, Duncan, eds. 2008. Twenty‐first century populism: The spectre of Western European democracy. Basingstoke et al.: Palgrave Macmillan UK.
Art, David. 2011. Inside the Radical Right: The Development of Anti‐Immigrant Parties in Western Europe. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Bornschier, Simon. 2010. Cleavage Politics and the Populist Right. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
Ford, Robert, and Matthew Goodwin. 2014. Revolt on the Right: Explaining Support for the Radical Right in Britain. London: Routledge.
Harteveld, Eelco. 2016. “Winning the ‘losers’ but losing the ‘winners’? The electoral consequences of the radical right moving to the economic left.” Electoral Studies DOI: 10.1016/ j.electstud.2016.08.015.
Huber, Rober A., and Saskia P. Ruth. 2017. Mind the Gap! Populism, Participation and Representation in Europe. Swiss Political Science Review, advanced online access, DOI: 10.1111/spsr.12280.
Ivarsflaten, Elisabeth. 2005. “The vulnerable populist right parties: No economic realignment fueling their economic success.” European Journal of Political Research 44:3, 465–92.
Meguid, Bonnie. 2005. Competition Between Unequals: The Role of Mainstream Party Strategy in Niche Party Success. American Political Science Review 99:3, 347–359.
Mény, Yves, and Yves Surel, eds. 2002. Democracies and the populist challenge. Basingstoke et al.: Palgrave Macmillan UK.
Mudde, Cas. 2007. Populist radical right parties in Europe. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Mudde, Cas, and Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser, eds. 2012. Populism in Europe and the Americas: Threat or corrective for democracy? New York: Cambridge University Press.
Rupnik, Jacques. 2007. "From democracy fatigue to populist backlash." Journal of Democracy 18:4, 17–25.
Schain, Martin A. 2006. The extreme‐right and immigration policy‐making: Measuring direct and indirect effects. West European Politics 29:2, 270–289.
Rooduijn, Matthijs, Sarah de Lange, Wouter van der Brug. 2014. A populist Zeitgeist? Programmatic contagion by populist parties in Western Europe. Party Politics 20:4, 563–575
Urbinati, Nadia, and Mark E. Warren. 2008. The Concept of Representation in Contemporary Democratic Theory. Annual Review of Political Science 11, 387‐412.
Van der Brug, Wouter, Meindert Fennema, and Jean Tillie. 2000. Anti‐immigrant Parties in Europe: Ideological or Protest Vote? European Journal of Political Research, 37:1, 77–102.
Van Spanje, Joost. 2010. Contagious parties: Anti‐immigration parties and their impact on other parties' stances on immigration in contemporary Western Europe. Party Politics 16:5, 563–586.
Zhirkov, Kirill. 2014. “Nativist but not alienated: A comparative perspective on the radical right vote in Western Europe.” Party Politics 20:2, 286–96.

How to Submit

Deadline for proposals: 15 December 2017

  • Notification of acceptance: January 2018
  • Submission of first draft to the guest editors: May 2018
  • Authors’ workshop: June 2018 (subject to acquisition of funds)
  • Estimated submission: August 2018 (begin of peer‐review process)
  • Estimated publication: end of 2018

Please send your proposal (max. 500 words) including short information on all authors involved to
both guest editors:

Heiko Giebler
WZB Berlin Social Science Center
Reichpietschufer 50
10785 Berlin

Annika Werner
Griffith University
170 Kessels Road
4111 Nathan

Editorial information