Europe & the World Event

Fighting Back Economic Populism – Strategies for the U.S. and Germany

Political Breakfast at Das Progressive Zentrum

In his campaign Donald Trump promised economic policy that will return the power to “the people”. Meanwhile, his agenda includes massive tax cuts, support for economic nationalism on trade favouring exports over imports, financial deregulation and cuts to federal spending on public health care, housing, education, environmental protection. Nevertheless, populist arguments proved to be convincing to certain parts of American society. Could this scenario repeat in Europe? To tackle this question, Das Progressive Zentrum invited five American experts and political consultants to share their thoughts on the recent rise of populism in the U.S. and its possible development in Europe.

The financial crisis did not only aggravate the living conditions of many citizens, but also influenced their perceptions as people lost the feeling of security and predictability. The populist narrative usually confronts the establishment. In the context of crisis its arguments were additionally strengthened by the depictions of unjust, top-down control of redistribution. Paradoxically, “Robin Hood politics”, like taxing imports or taking control over the production strategies of corporations, are now being preached by representatives of wealthy elites, like Donald Trump. Social security, state institutions or pension systems are mere examples of the topics successfully high-jacked by populist rhetoric.

In the wake of rising populism in Europe and the election of Donald Trump in the United States, progressives on both sides of the Atlantic struggle to reconnect with their voters. In the U.S., the political left tries to reclaim working-class citizens, who feel that the Democratic Party abandoned them. In Germany, the left faces a similar challenge in reaching out to their voters with a coherent, convincing message. It is urgent to reclaim the progressive language, separating an informed debate on market imperfections and modern welfare state from the populist demagoguery, based on conspiracy theories or scapegoating.

Therefore, in cooperation with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Das Progressive Zentrum will host a morning discussion on February 24th to exchange insights on economic populism in the United States and Germany. During Political Breakfast inputs on the American perspective will be delivered by renowned experts and experienced practitioners: Mike Darner, Executive Director of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Daniel Hervig, Legislative Director Office of Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Jenn Kaufmann, SVP, Revolution Messaging, Matt Stoller, Fellow, Open Markets Program, New America Foundation and Justin Zorn, Political Consultant, Upaya Strategies. Short introduction from a German and European perspective will be given by Christian Odendahl, Chief Economist at the Centre for European Reform. The following discussion will be moderated by Laura-Kristine Krause, Policy Fellow at Das Progressive Zentrum.

Should you be interested in the event, please do not hesitate to contact the organisers under The meeting agenda is available here and you can register here by 22 February 2017.


The event is organised by:



Maria Skóra

Event Date

24 February 2017