Progressives Against the Far-Right

New „Talking Progress“ Podcast episode with Catherine de Vries, Cas Mudde and Johannes Hillje


National lockdowns, vaccine rollout strategies, and the shutdown of international travel have introduced the national framework as a dominating force. Tune in to this episode to hear Catherine de Vries and Cas Mudde discuss what this all means for the electoral chances of right-wing populists and how progressives must respond right now.

How has the pandemic year influenced the politics of right-wing populists and nationalists? Is their goal of a world defined by closed and exclusive communities any closer or has the year 2020 and 2021 demonstrated the need for regional and international cooperation? This episode will debate the short and long term effects of the pandemic on right-wing populism and offer suggestions on how progressives can win elections during the 2020s.

Johannes Hillje, a policy fellow at Das Progressive Zentrum, moderated this conversation between Catherine de Vries, Dean of Diversity and Inclusion and Professor of Political Science at the Bocconi University and Cas Mudde, Professor of International Affairs at the University of Georgia.

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The 2021 German Elections and 2022 French Elections

With both Germany and France gearing up for national elections, the political impact of the pandemic will undergo major tests. Catherine De Vries and Cas Mudde discuss how progressives in these countries should campaign within the context of the pandemic, focusing on how to communicate policies and coalition expectations.

„There is a demand for populist right parties and the demand can fluctuate with current conditions.“

Catherine de Vries

Policy analysis: Austerity measures have benefited the far-right

Which conditions and policy decisions have empowered right-wing populist parties in the past decade? Catherine de Vries points to empirical evidence suggesting that austerity measures have been a big driver for far-right parties. Using the 2010 financial crisis as a comparison point, both guests analyse lessons learned and the pros and cons of the EU’s response this time around.

The importance of setting the progressive agenda

Taking a broad look at Europe, Catherine de Vries and Cas Mudde provide examples on how the far-right has adapted and responded to changing political situations. The experts advocate for progressive leaders and parties to take positions entrenched in liberal values and to set the agenda with their own visions of society. Winning elections, progressive administrations, and democratic institutions are at stake.

„We should make policies based on what we think is best, not based on populists“.

Cas Mudde

How to make the 2020s a decade of progress

Catherine de Vries demands to take a position and to keep that position as much as one can while choosing one specific battle, the battle for liberal rights and liberal democracy. On the other hand, Cas Mudde urges us to re-politicize politics, „it has to be ideological again“. We would need to recapture the agenda on the basis of our own ideology. Focusing on key policies would include the environment, housing, public health and reimagining Europe.

This episode is the first part of our Progressive Governance series. We recorded this session as part of the Progressive Governance Digital Summit that took place from June 9th to 11th 2021. Post-production and additional recordings done by Annika Hoffmann and Das Progressive Zentrum.

Find out more about the Progressive Governance Summit!


Annika Hoffmann war ab Januar 2021 Assistentin im Kommunikationsteam. Nach ihrem Dualen Studium an der TH Köln führte sie ihre Leidenschaft für Journalismus und Hörfunk nach Brüssel - zum Master in Communication Sciences an der Vrije Universiteit Brussel mit Fokus auf 'Journalism and Media in Europe'. Hier begeisterte sie sich für Kommunikationswissenschaft und Diskursforschung. Auch in Zukunft möchte sie ihre Interessen in Politik, ideologischer Kommunikation und die Zukunft der liberalen Demokratie, weiter verfolgen und den Schwerpunkt Diskurs und Ideologie rechter und populistischer Akteure, vertiefen. Privat engagiert sie sich ehrenamtlich beim grassroots Think Tank Club Alpbach Belgium Brussels (Teil des Forum Alpbach Network) als Scholarship Coordinator und Vorstandsmitglied.
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