Societies Outside Metropolises: the role of civil society organisations in facing populism

by the EESC's Diversity Europe Group

Populism in the EU is currently at its highest levels since the 1930s. In this context, the EESC's Diversity Europe Group has carried out a study on Societies Outside Metropolises: the Role of Civil Society Organisations in Facing Populism, which is now available online.

The study identifies factors influencing citizens’ choices in favour of populism and the role of civil society organisations in countering it. The study looks at 8 non-metropolitan areas with a high populist vote from four different countries, one above and one below the EU average in each case:

  • Klagenfurt-Villach and Niederösterreich-Süd (Austria)
  • Drôme and Aisne (France)
  • Udine and Reggio di Calabria (Italy)
  • Płocki and Nowosądecki (Poland)

Economic decline, social instability and limited levels of education are significant factors explaining the increased support for populists across the EU. However, there are other more important, interdependent factors. For example, real or perceived insecurities are fuelled daily by disinformation, while many young voters are attracted to the idea that populist parties can bring positive change to stagnant and incompetent political systems.

It is the strong view of the Diversity Europe Group that EESC members have a double responsibility: to step up activities at both the national and European levels to strengthen networks, explain 'Europe' better and bring it closer to members of the public. Ultimately, protecting and preserving liberal democracy is everyone's business! (cl)