Protestors in Connecticut

Global Populisms and their International Diffusion

March 1-2, 2019 | Stanford University

    Conference Overview
  • Conference Overview
  • Conference Program
  • Conference Logistics

Conference Overview

This conference aims to examine the international aspects of the rise of populism across the globe: the role of international alliances, disinformation and propaganda campaigns, and the use of hacking, international institutions, and ideology as ways of building the new "illiberal international."

At this conference we will examine: 

  • Conceptualizing the threat: Are we observing diffusion—or homophily? Do these actors actively build linkages and support each other, or do simply we see the imitation of successful patterns? How and when does international outreach build domestic support for populist parties?  
  • Populist alliances: Do these “allied” movements share a common ideology, or are their affinities superficial and ephemeral? What are the tradeoffs inherent in these alliances—what do the partners gain, and what do they stand to lose, given the nativist attitudes of some of their supporters? What is the role of the European Union here, and its selective targeting of some countries but not others for the erosion of liberal democratic formal institutions?
  • Russia’s “soft” efforts: A main vector of international influence has been via disinformation and propaganda efforts. What is the impact of these efforts, such as Russia Today and other broadcasting outlets, social media campaigns, and the spread of fake news? Do these and other investments pay off? Which disinformation campaigns work, when and how? Who are the most successful “useful idiots”: the domestic actors who transmit and amplify these efforts?  
  • Cybersecurity: The spate of successful efforts to compromise electoral systems, hack email accounts, and breach security systems has so far benefitted chiefly populist and populist authoritarian political parties and politicians. What weapons are at the disposal of both democratic and authoritarian actors—and what form would deterrence take? What are the politics of identifying targets and punishing them?  
  • What is to be done? What are successful strategies that curtail international interference (cf the 2016 French presidential elections)? How do we protect the highly diverse and often inadequately documented voting systems administered by individual states? How do democracies and liberal democratic political parties win the information war? How do they build resilience in the future?

Conference Program






Conference Logistics

Seawell Family Boardroom
Bass Center
Knight Management Center (Graduate School of Business)

Street Address:
655 Knight Way

Campus Map

Conference contact for participants:  for questions regarding conference logistics, please contact Karen Haley at