PODCAST | Is populism our future?



Practically all democracies are now experiencing the effects of living through a populist moment, so we need to think ahead and ask: is populism our future?

The Sydney Democracy Network hosted a conversation with two of Australia’s most informed commentators, Nicole Curato and Benjamin Moffitt, on the durability of populist leadership and whether there are alternative political visions on offer. The forum will deal with such matters as why we got to this moment, how the populist style is reshaping public conversations, and whether the current preoccupation with populism is a distraction from the deeper causes of democratic decline. The forum will also examine populism’s legacies and what the future holds for democratic politics in the age of Hanson, Trump, Duterte and Podemos.

Chair: Professor Simon Tormey

Nicole Curato is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance at the University of Canberra. She is the author of the forthcoming book Democracy in a Time of Misery: From Spectacular Tragedy to Deliberative Action (Oxford University Press) and Power in Deliberative Democracy: Norms, Forums and Systems (with Marit Hammod and John Min, Palgrave), and the editor of the book  A Duterte Reader: Critical Essays on Rodrigo Duterte’s Early Presidency (Cornell University Press). She was the recipient of the Australian Research Council’s Discovery Early Career Research Award (2015-2018) for her work on democratic innovations in contexts of widespread depravity and dispossession. Aside from scholarly journals, she is a regular commentator in media outlets including The New York Times, ABC News Australia, CNN and Al Jazeera, among others. She tweets @NicoleCurato.

Benjamin Moffitt is Senior Lecturer in Politics at the National School of Arts, ACU (Melbourne). His research is located at the intersection of comparative politics, contemporary political theory and political communications, and focuses on contemporary populism across the globe. Benjamin joined ACU in 2018. Prior to this, he was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Uppsala University and Stockholm University, Sweden. He received his PhD from the University of Sydney in 2014, and his BA (Hons) from the University of Wollongong. He has been a visiting researcher at the WZB (Berlin Social Science Centre) and University of Toronto, and is an associate of the Sydney Democracy Network. In 2018, he was named one of the Top 5 young Humanities and Social Sciences Researchers in Australia by the ABC. He is the author of The Global Rise of Populism: Performance, Political Style and Representation (Stanford University Press, 2016), and numerous articles and chapters on populism in Australia, New Zealand and Western Europe, as well as the theoretical and media-communicative dimensions of populism. These have appeared in journals including Political Studies and Government & Opposition, and in collections such as The Oxford Handbook of Populism. He is currently writing a book on populism and political theory for Polity’s ‘Key Concepts in Political Theory’ series. Benjamin is also a frequent commentator on populism in the Australian and international press, and his work has appeared in outlets such as The Economist, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Bloomberg News, The Conversation, the ABC, and the BBC World Service.