Populist Politics, Authoritarian Politicians and the Public

In both developed and developing states, populists have taken control of the levers of power with a winning message that taps into frustrations with modern economic, social, and cultural issues. With increasing authoritarianism expressed behind the veneer of democratic institutions, norms are now disrupted and democratic spaces have now shrunk. Together with examples from all over the world, this course will look at the political history of the United Kingdom and the all-consuming Brexit phenomenon to explore authoritarianism, populism, and democratic backsliding, as well as consider the economic and cultural anxieties that resonate within populist political messaging.

Featuring subject matter expert

Annita Sophocleous
Annita Sophocleous

Senior International Officer at University of Law

Annita Sophocleous has a BA in European Studies from Royal Holloway and an MA in European Union Studies from Leiden University. She formerly worked for a Member of the European Parliament in Brussels.

How can democracy survive the threat of populism?

I believe the only way for democracy to survive is to effectively and efficiently deal with the issues that have pushed people towards populism- issues such as globalisation, economic recession, mass migration and inequality. Otherwise people will inevitably seek out alternatives that promise solutions, often in the form of populism.

Course Overview

  • Delve into the world of populism, in which society is polarised and separated into the public and the ruling elites.
  • Explore the complexities of populist politics, and how populism does not inherently belong to a particular side of the political spectrum.
  • Consider how Oliver Cromwell's dance with authoritarianism, historically, as well as Brexit, in the modern context, demonstrate that the British people can believe in the promises of populist leaders.
  • Ponder the survival of democracy as being predicated on a reframing of populism while addressing the legitimate socio-political concerns raised by populists.
Course content
  • 8 Full HD Video Lectures
  • Downloadable Course Handouts
  • Knowledge Assessment Quiz
  • Interactive Group Discussion Task
  • Q&A Session with a Subject Matter Expert
  • Certificate of Achievement





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