International Relations Lecture Series

Debra Leiter, Ph.D.

14 April 2020

The Populist’s Toolkit: How & Why Populist Parties Changed the Political Game in Europe

About Dr. Leiter

Dr. Leiter’s focus is comparative politics, primarily Western Europe, and her research examines how the institutional, social, and party system contexts affect the type of information voters have access to, rely on, and use when making political decisions. Leiter joined the Department of Political Science at the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 2013. Leiter received her BA from the University of California, San Diego, and her PhD from the University of California, Davis. She is an award-winning researcher and teacher, having received the Carrie Chapman Catt Prize on Women and Politics, and the UMKC CAS Alumni Outstanding Teaching Award.

About the Topic

Dr. Leiter’s lecture is titled “The Populist’s Toolkit: How and Why Populist Parties Have Changed the Political Game in Europe.” While populism is not a new phenomenon, the 21st century has seen an unprecedented growth in support and success for populist parties, especially in Europe.  The growth of these populist parties have created new challenges for existing political parties, and in doing so, have changed the face of the European political system.  While there are a number of reasons for their success, populist parties have used a number of strategies to help spur their success.   Whether they are taking quick jabs at established political parties or running sophisticated online and in-person campaigns, populist parties have used multiple strategies to appeal to both disaffected mainstream voters and those who previously had never participated.  By understanding these strategies and why they work, we can better understand why this current strain of divisive and anti-elite politics have become a new norm across the Atlantic.

Event Details

This event had been canceled due COVID-19 concerns, but was resurrected as a Zoom gathering! And, it was a big success.

Dr. Leiter took the original cancellation news with great grace by not only offering to provide us with a video presentation, but also by helping us get the word out about the schedule change—here’s her updated Facebook profile picture:


Slides from Dr. Leiter’s presentation.