População e Sociedade no. 35

Judite Gonçalves de Freitas (editor)

June 2021
Dossier Temático
The European Union between integration and disintegration: the challenge of populism



Cláudia Toriz Ramos
Paulo Vila Maior


Although the ideological roots and political party positions of Europeans are not alien to the process of European integration, recent years have made this dimension clearer and brought it to the center of the debate. The reinforcement of the presence of far-right and far-left political parties and forces whose discourse tends to Euroscepticism, or even to the refusal of the European Union (EU), is the background of this thematic dossier of the journal Population and Society.

Euroscepticism is nothing new in European politics, with the EU having long-standing opponents. The reasons for skepticism or for rejecting the European project are, however, different: if, on the one hand, the anti-capitalist discourse has predominated, on the other it is an exclusivist neo-nationalism that has served as a catalyst. The EU is now facing ups and downs that sow the specter of disintegration.

This thematic dossier of Population and Society brings together a series of articles that explore various dimensions of populism in the context of the EU. Paulo Vila Maior identifies the electoral growth of populist and/or radical forces in national elections and in the last elections for the European Parliament (EP). Despite the growth of the contingent of populist and/or radical MPs in the EP, a majority of MPs in favor of advancing European integration continues to prevail. Luca Manucci inventories forty years of populism in EP. The author concludes that the parties with the greatest representation are on the extreme right, which, after an initial phase of internal disorganization, are now organized in a political group with its own identity. Cláudia Ramos reviews the Conference on the Future of Europe, analyzing political speeches and, in particular, the causal relationship between speeches and populist threats that hang over the EU. Emphasis is placed on the reinvention of democracy with the purpose of bringing citizens closer to the political process, thus emptying one of the proposals contained in the electoral programs of populist parties. João Palhau, Patrícia Silva and Edna Costa reflect on the electoral programs of Portuguese political parties in the context of the 2019 legislative elections. The authors identify a strong impermeability of the parties to populist factors, even in the case of the radical right party. João Casqueira Cardoso, Ákos Cserny, Beatrix Borbás and Lukasz Urbaniak assess the emergence of populism as a challenge to the rule of law and respect for fundamental rights, taking Hungary and Poland as case studies for the successive distortions of those axial legal values. The authors claim that fundamental rights are exposed to weaknesses when governance follows a populist orientation. Finally, Federico Castignioli makes an incursion into European political thought, articulating populism with the moral dimension. The author concludes that the analysis of populism is permeable to a certain normativization, which confirms the interaction with moralism.

João Casqueira CardosoÁkos CsernyBeatrix BorbásLukasz Urbaniak