Red X iconGreen tick iconYellow tick icon
Thursday 15 June 2023 11:49am

Boosted by social media, racism, and burgeoning inequality, populism is proving a major challenge for liberal democracies in the 21st century.

While populist politicians like Trump and Bolsonaro have been the subject of significant coverage, the international and transnational impacts of the populism phenomenon have received much less attention, a point the 2023 Otago Foreign Policy School hopes to address.

Robert Patman image
Professor Robert Patman

Co-director Professor Robert Patman hopes the School will shed some light on the linkages between populist politicians, alerting us to common trends that have implications for New Zealand.

“It is clear populist movements and leaders identify with each other and often support each other in election campaigns, such as Nigel Farage demonstrating his solidarity with Donald Trump in the 2016 and 2020 elections, and it is evident that many of the demands voiced by populist parties and leaders have a foreign policy or international component,” Professor Patman says.

The School, a joint venture between Otago and the University of Kiel, Germany seeks to address this anomaly by considering four inter-related themes:

  • The common language and narratives of populism
  • The recurrent causes and drivers of populism (Islamophobia after 9/11, the impact of the 2008/9 global financial crisis, burgeoning inequality, and the effects of the digital revolution, including the rise of social media)
  • The use of case studies to illustrate the populist experience in India, Brazil, USA, Japan, Germany and New Zealand
  • The uneasy relationship between populism and the international rules-based order

About 150 people are expected to attend the three-day event, which will bring together academics, journalists, diplomats and members of the general public interested in the nexus between populism and global politics.

“The School brings together an extraordinary cast of international and national specialists on populism, and it is a range of views and perspectives that many New Zealanders would not have encountered before,” Professor Patman says.

Included in the strong and distinguished line-up are New Zealand Foreign Minister, Nanaia Mahuta, and speakers from Canada, Australia, Germany, Turkey, UK, Brazil, Sri Lanka and New Zealand.

Events details

Otago Foreign Policy School – Populism and Global Politics, 30 June–2 July 2023, University of Otago.

For more information, please contact

Ellie Rowley
Communications Adviser
University of Otago
Mob +64 21 278 8200

Back to top