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Centre for European Research

Why the Centre-right Might be Wrong on the eve of the 2019 European Elections: How do Mainstream Conservatives Handle Europe's Populist Challenge?

11 February 2019

Time: 6:00 - 8:00pm
Venue: Churchill Room, Europe House, 32 Smith Square, London, SW1P 3EU

Keynote Speaker: 
Professor Tim Bale (Centre for European Research, Queen Mary University of London)

Charles Grant (Centre for European Reform, UK)

Sofia Vasilopoulou (Senior Lecturer in Politics, University of York)


Dr Sarah Wolff (Director of the Centre for European Research, Queen Mary University of London)


2018/2019 Debating Europe Seminar Series

Discussions concerning the rise of populist political forces across Europe continue to intensify in the run-up to the European Parliament election which is to take place in May 2019. While populist parties are increasingly gaining momentum throughout the EU, many assert that the centre-right has yet to come up with viable strategies to tackle this challenge. Our speakers will aim to answer this and many more questions in what is expected to be a very vibrant debate involving the audience as well.

About the speakers:

tim bale

Tim Bale is Professor of Politics at Queen Mary University of London and academic member of the Centre for European Research. Author of several widely referenced articles and successful books, he received the W.J.M. Mackenzie prize for his 2011 book The Conservative Party from Thatcher to Cameron, the second edition of which was published in late 2016. Other books include The Conservatives since 1945: the Drivers of Party Change and Five Year Mission. The Labour Party under Ed Miliband. The 4th edition of his textbook on European Politics was published in 2017. Tim's media work includes writing for the Financial Times and the Guardian, regular appearances on various BBC radio and television programmes, as well as regular commentary in other well-known newspapers across Europe.

Charles Grant

Charles Grant helped to found the Centre for European Reform in 1996. In January 1998 he left The Economist to become the CER’s first director. He is the author of numerous CER publications, including Russia, China and global governance (2012) and How to build a modern European Union (2013). He works on, among other subjects, EU foreign and defence policy, Russia, China, the euro and Britain’s relationship with the EU. His biography of Commission President Jacques Delors (Delors: Inside the House that Jacques Built, published by Nicholas Brealey) appeared in 1994. It was subsequently translated into French, Japanese and Russian.

He was a director and trustee of the British Council from 2002 to 2008. He is a member of the international advisory boards of the Moscow School of Civic Education, the Turkish think-tank EDAM and the French think-tank Terra Nova. He is a member of the council of the Ditchley Foundation, and chairman of the foundation's programme committee. In 2004 he became a chevalier of France’s Ordre Nationale du Mérite, and in 2013 a Companion of St Michael and St George (CMG) "for services to European and wider international policy-making". In 2015 he was awarded the Bene Merito medal by the Polish government and in December 2015 he was presented with the Star of Italy medal by the Italian government.

Charles is a regular contributor to the Financial Times, the International New York Times and many other publications.


Dr Sofia Vasilopoulou is a Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of York. She holds a PhD in Politics from the London School of Economics.

Her work examines political dissatisfaction with democracy and democratic institutions across Europe. Specific themes include Euroscepticism, extremism and loss of faith in traditional politics. Her research is situated in the broader fields of European Union Politics, Comparative European Politics, Political Behaviour and Party Politics.

She currently leads an ESRC Future Leaders Project entitled ‘Euroscepticism: dimensions, causes and consequences in times of crisis’. For information on the project, please visit

She has authored Far Right Parties and Euroscepticism: Patterns of Opposition (ECPR Press and Rowman & Littlefield) and co-authored The Golden Dawn's Nationalist Solution: Explaining the rise of the far right in Greece (Palgrave Macmillan 2015 with Daphne Halikiopoulou), also published in Greek by Epikdro.

She is the co-editor of the European Journal of Political Researchand the convenor of the ECPR Standing group on Political Parties

 sarah wolff

Dr Sarah Wolff is Director of the Centre for European Research and Lecturer in Public Policy at Queen Mary University of London. She is also a Senior Research Associate at the Netherlands Institute of International Relations (Clingendael). Dr Wolff is an expert on EU politics, Justice and Home Affairs (JHA), migration and border management policies, as well as EU-Arab Mediterranean relations and EU development aid. She is author of the monograph The Mediterranean Dimension of the European Union’s Internal Security (2012) and received the LISBOAN Research Award 2012 for her co-edited book Freedom, Security and Justice after Lisbon and Stockholm (2012). Her current research focuses on Secular Power Europe and EU engagement with Islam for which she was awarded a Fulbright-Schuman and a Leverhulme research grant in 2014/2015. Prior to joining the academia, Dr Wolff worked at DG Devco at the European Commission and as a parliamentary assistant at the European Parliament.

The discussion will be followed by a Q&A involving the audience.

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