The focus of my research is on the interplay between populist parties and democratic regimes. Populism is not ‘fascism light’ but a normative orientation towards an illiberal democratic ideal. Whether in the shape of political parties, as a discourse, or as an individual attitude, populism represents the main challenge to liberal democracy in our time (Nadia Urbinati).
In my empirical research, I am mainly interested in three crucial questions:
How is the issue of democracy represented in the ideology, manifestos, communication, and electoral strategy of populist parties, especially on the radical right?
How does populism as an individual attitude shape the attitudes of political elites? What does it mean if political elites despise the institutions, perhaps even the system they act in?
How do the parties of the political mainstream react to populist parties? Which strategies do they choose, and to what extent are counterstrategies successful in their attempt to contain their populist contenders?