Workshop - The Multifaceted view of political representation between liberal and anti-liberals regimes in Europe and South-America
31 março 2021 | 14h30 | 2nd Edition Online

Consensus and Legitimacy in the Year of the Pandemic
between New Technologies, Conspiracy Theories, and Populism



Goffredo Adinolfi CIES-Iscte and Giuseppe Ballacci CEPS, UMinho



Paula Diehl University of Kiel, Alan Finlayson University of East Anglia, Paolo Gerbaudo King’s College London, Mayra Goulart UFRJ and PPGCS/UFRRJ, Andrea Molle Chapman University, João Rosas CEPS, UMinho





The pandemic is deeply affecting our societies not only for the terrible toll it has taken in terms of lives lost, as well as social and economic negative effects, but also for how it is changing people’s thoughts and beliefs. Conspiracy theories in particular are playing a pivotal role in further undermining social trust in liberal democracy. In this respect, we can say that the pandemic has erupted in the middle of a deep-rooted crisis of liberal democracy, which it has significantly contributed to aggravate. Far right populist parties have tried to seize the opportunity to fuel such generalized distrust and advance their agenda. But if populism thrives in moments of crisis, it is still to be seen whether these parties will be able to benefit from this exceptional situation. In the United States, for instance, Donald Trump played the card of minimizing the effects of the pandemic, at the same time inciting people’s suspicion toward the establishment and science, but with no clear results in terms of political gains. Something similar happened in Brazil, with Bolsonaro. In other countries such as Germany, Italy, France and Spain we have seen widespread demonstrations against an alleged “sanitary totalitarianism” put in place by hidden elites in order to carry out “a big reset” of the entire economic system. The real political significance of these manifestations is still to be seen, however.


Be that as it may, what is clear is that the pandemic will have a significant impact on the overall legitimacy of liberal democracies around the world, especially regarding the vexed question of their crisis of representativeness. The moment thus is propitious for a reassessment of contemporary forms of political representation in its different models - liberal democracy, authoritarianism and illiberal democracies – in underling factors of transformation, instability and fragility. A particular focus will be put on the relationship between new technologies and the widespread use of radicalised forms of religion as a way to establish connections with “the people” in a conspiratorial environment. This is the goal of this workshop, which follows up on a similar event that took place last year before the pandemic began.