The Rise of Populism: Expected or Unexpected?

Populist parties have existed in Europe for decades. Mostly on the periphery since the end of World War II, many have become mainstream once again in recent years. Their candidates are winning elections, gaining seats in government, and upending political establishments on a larger scale – as the Brexit campaign success shows. Meanwhile, both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are described as manifestations of the same phenomenon in the United States. In short, populism is a rising force in politics around the Western world. What are the contours of modern populism, and what forces are fueling its current urgency? Are the refugee crisis and economic decline responsible, or is today’s populism the fruit of decades of globalization? 

Policy experts, researchers, and practitioners will convene at this half-day symposium to explore the recent surge of populist movements and the myriad ways they are changing the political landscape.


Speaker Bio


Registration and Light Breakfast

8:30 - 9:00 a.m. 

Panel 1: The Rise of Populism – Trends, Forces, and Developments

9:00 - 10:15 a.m.

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Aleksandar Hemon, Fiction Writer, Essayist, Critic
John Judis, Author, The Populist Explosion: How the Great Recession Transformed American and European Politics; Editor-at-Large, Talking Points Memo
Cas Mudde, Associate Professor, School of Public and International Affairs, University of Georgia
Daniel Lansberg-Rodriguez, Chief Economist, Core Capital Management; Director, Latin America region, Greenmantle LLC; Adjunct Lecturer in Finance, Northwestern University Kellogg School of Business
Niamh King (moderator), Vice President, Programs and Strategic Content, Chicago Council on Global Affairs

Panel 2: From Brexit to Election 2016 – Populism in Europe and the United States

10:30 - 11:45 a.m.

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Lee Feinstein, Former US Ambassador to Poland (2009-2012); Dean, Indiana University School of Global and International Studies
Dina Smeltz, Senior Fellow, Public Opinion and Foreign Policy, Chicago Council on Global Affairs
​Constanze Stelzenmüller, Robert Bosch Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, Center on the United States and Europe, Brookings
​João Vale de Almeida, EU Ambassador to the United Nations; former EU Ambassador to the United States
Noah Toly (moderator), Senior Fellow, Global Cities, Chicago Council on Global Affairs

Lunch Keynote Panel: Beyond 2016 – The Implications of Populism

12 noon - 1:15 p.m.

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Ivo Daalder – President, Chicago Council on Global Affairs
Robin Niblett – Director, Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House)


The Antidote to Anti-Immigrant Populism Isn't Walls and Registries
Sara McElmurry, Global Insight, October 19

Video: What Is Populism?
Ivo Daalder, Global Insight, October 13

An American Dictatorship? Yes, It Could Happen
Richard C. Longworth, Chicago Tribune, September 22

Moore's Mobs: Technology and the New Populism
Iain Whitaker, Global Insight, September 15

This Week's Reads with Ivo Daalder – Nationalists and Globalists
Ivo Daalder, Global Insight, September 15

Globalization's Political Earthquake
Richard C. Longworth, August 16

The New Demagoguery
Ivo H. Daalder, July 13

Foundation Support >

The Stuart Family Foundation