CfP for the panel proposal: “Right-wing populism, religion and democratic backsliding”

ECPR General Conference at Charles University, Prague, 4-8 September 2023
Section “Religion and Politics in the 2020s: The State of the Field”
Convenors: Luca Ozzano ( and Sultan Tepe (

After the conference, the revised papers will be submitted as a special issue to an international journal.

Please send your proposal of up to 200 words to the convenors by 21st February (and NOT via the ECPR homepage yet!). If your abstract will be accepted, the convenors will send you a confirmation, and they will submit the proposal electronically themselves. Please make sure that you have an active MyECPR account, and let the convenors know the email address it is associated with.

The past two decades have witnessed the success of right-wing populist parties and leaders in different parts of the world. Among the wide literature about the subject, an increasing number of academic works has highlighted the possibility that their activity might be the cause of phenomena of democratic backsliding that several countries have experienced in recent years. This panel aims at casting light on this phenomenon and, particularly, on the role played by the religious factor in it.

As shown by several studies, religion – intended in an identity-driven and civilizational meaning – is a very important factor for the exclusionary processes that mark the right-wing versions of populism. If we conceive populism as a logic of politics, in Laclau’s terms, religion plays a crucial role in the construction of the chain of equivalences that builds the right-wing populist social coalition, and in creating the boundaries that separate this latter from the excluded segments of society. Very commonly – although the specific dynamics can vary from case to case – this process is related to the field of morality politics (with the exclusion or marginalization of women, the LGBTQ+ community, and secularly oriented people) and immigration/multiculturalism (with the exclusion of migrants, and various types of ethnic/religious/linguistic minorities).

This panel welcomes case studies analyzing the role played by religion in these processes in specific national/regional contexts. Each paper will investigate the specific role played by the sacred in the construction of the populist coalition in that specific context; the degree of exclusion experienced by the different minority groups in relation to the two domains of morality politics and immigration/multiculturalism, with particular attention for the exclusionary policies put in place, or just proposed, by populist parties and leaders; and, consequently, the relevance of the consequent process of deterioration and erosion of democratic rights and liberties in the country/region.

If the overall quality of the papers will allow it, a revisioned version of these will be later submitted as a special issue to a renowned international political science journal.