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The populist signal: Why politics and democracy need to change

  • Date(s)
    18 September 2015
  • Time
    15:00-17:00 (tea/coffee from 14.30 and drinks reception afterwards)
  • Location
    TBC, University of Edinburgh
The populist signal: Why politics and democracy need to change

A deep sense of political alienation is a fertile breeding ground for populists. In her new report, The Populist Signal, Claudia Chwalisz argues that profound alienation, changing values, structural economic change and technology have together altered the British political landscape. Large swathes of voters feel that politics no longer represents or works for them.

A long-term response to these trends requires a fundamental change in the way politics is done; rather than government for the people, government with the people. The report features new Ipsos Mori polling showing that most people would be willing to participate in randomly selected citizens’ assemblies, where ordinary people would have an influential role in policymaking at the local and national levels.

Inspiration from international case studies highlights the possibility for such change; governments and councils are being emboldened by the results of participatory deliberative democracy projects.The rise of populism can be seen as a corrective warning signal to parties and governments to revisit their approaches to governance and political representation.


Claudia Chwalisz, senior policy researcher, Policy Network and public service fellow, University of Sheffield

Katriona Carmichael, Policy Advisor, Scottish Government Public Services Reform Unit

Juliet Swann, ​campaigns and research officer, Electoral Reform Society Scotland

Mathias Thaler, Chancellor's Fellow in Politics and Deputy Director of the Global Justice Academy, University of Edinburgh


Oliver Escobar, lecturer in public policy, University of Edinburgh and co-director of What Works Scotland


If you wish to attend this event, please register here.

The research for the Policy Network report was generously supported by the Barrow Cadbury Trust. You can download the report here.

The University of Edinburgh Academy of Government is kindly hosting this event.




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