Participation in a populist age

What does it mean for the health of our democracy?

Many agree that politics has entered a populist phase. But what are the implications for the health of our democracy, and for activists and campaigners working for change within the traditional democratic process?

This isn’t just about Brexit and Trump. Established parties all over Europe and beyond have been shifted by populist politics. New parties and leaders have emerged to take centre stage.

One consequence of this is an apparent increase in engagement with politics, particularly among groups who were previously disengaged. It all seems a long way from the state of play 10 or 15 years ago, when voter turnout and party membership numbers told a story of participation in decline.

But what kind of participation thrives in a populist age? Should it be welcomed? Does it make sense to speak of a left wing populism’? And what does it all mean for the health of our democracy, and for the future of our politics?

The New Economics Foundation and Loughborough University are delighted to invite you to a mini-conference on Participation in a Populist Age. We are bringing together politicians, journalists, campaigners and experts to try to understand the nature of political engagement in these extraordinary times.


1.15pm: Registration and coffee
1.30pm: Keynote by Stella Creasy (MP for Walthamstow) – Changemakers: How to Make Progress Happen
2.30pm: Can we stop worrying about political disengagement?
Panel: Zoe Williams (The Guardian), Will Jennings (University of Southampton and Centre for Towns), Jess Garland (Director of Policy and Research at the Electoral Reform Society)
3.30pm: Break
3.45pm: Is modern campaigning good or bad for democracy?
Panel: Alan Finlayson (University of East Anglia), Sirio Canos Donnay (Podemos), Tricia Rich (SumofUs). Chaired by Phil Parvin, Loughborough University, with contributions from all attendees

Date: Monday 21st May
Time: 1.30pm-5pm
Location: John Tudor Room, Central Hall Westminster, Storey’s Gate, London, SW1H 9NH

Register here

If you value great public services, protecting the planet and reducing inequality, please support NEF today.

Make a one-off donation

£5 £10 £25 £50 £100

Make a monthly donation

£3 £5 £10 £25 £100

Receive invites to future events

Join our mailing list to receive updates on NEF's work, including details of future events.

Sign up