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Addressing populism and boosting civic and democratic engagement


Proposals should analyse populism comprehensively, drawing also on historical and comparative perspectives, philosophical, sociological, cultural and gender-based explanations, and foresight. They should also examine whether and how populism is related to structural socio-economic mutations or destabilisations of politico-economic paradigms. The evolving character and emergence of new political parties as well as the role played by both traditional and social media and public opinion should be studied, including changes in political and social functions over time. The significance of charismatic leaders for the cause of populism should also be considered as well as other factors such as perceptions of elitism and establishments, which may attract citizens to populist movements. A central question should be how the potential of groups under-represented in public affairs, particularly younger citizens, to engage in public affairs and their civil responsibilities could be harnessed for constructive democratic engagement. The role of schools, local communities and digital media should be considered as well as new forms participation.

Proposals should also assess to what extent populism in Europe is tied up with negative orientations (e.g. anti-globalisation, anti-EU, anti-immigrants, anti-minorities), a sense of nostalgia or nativeness, and nationalist ideologies. Research should also investigate in which ways populism in Europe may be a transnational phenomenon and how it may have been affected by European integration. Comparisons between manifestations of populism inside and outside Europe, and over time, may be made. Research should also assess actions that have been taken to counter populism as well as how populism affects the policy-making process.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the order of EUR 3 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Mainstream political parties are being increasingly perceived as not addressing adequately the challenges faced by the EU and its Member States. At the same time, support for populist parties, movements and ideas is on the rise. The challenge is to analyse the phenomenon of populism and its consequences for European democracies and the European project. In addition, innovative ways of understanding and addressing the causes of populism as well as strategies for strengthening democratic values and practices need to be identified.

The action will enhance the knowledge base on populism in comparative and historical perspective. It will develop indicators as well as medium to long-term scenarios on the consequences of populism, which will support policies, narrative construction and other actions to address the phenomenon.