Politics, History and International Relations


Stijn van Kessel BSc MSc DPhil FHEA

Photo of  Stijn van Kessel

Lecturer in Politics


Dr. Stijn van Kessel joined Loughborough in October 2012. Between October 2013 and September 2015 he carried out research at the Institut für Deutsches und Internationales Parteienrecht und Parteienforschung (PRuF) at the Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf, Germany. This project was funded through a postdoctoral fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

Previously, Stijn completed a BSc (2005) and MSc (2006, ‘cum laude’) in Political Science at the VU University Amsterdam. He defended his doctoral dissertation at the University of Sussex in November 2011, after which he was visiting lecturer at the Radboud University Nijmegen and the VU University Amsterdam.

Since January 2014, Stijn has been one of the convenors of the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR) Standing Group on Extremism & Democracy (together with Prof. Sarah de Lange, Dr. Andrea Pirro and Dr. Matthijs Rooduijn).

Stijn is currently co-investigator in the project ‘28+ perspectives on Brexit: a guide to the multi-stakeholder negotiations’ with Prof. Helen Drake (Principal Investigator), Dr. Elena Georgiadou, Dr. Borja Garcia Garcia and Dr. Nicola Chelotti. The project is funded through an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Brexit Priority Grant and runs from April 2017 until October 2018.

Stijn’s main research interests are populism and the discourse, voters and electoral performance of populist parties in Europe, with a particular focus on the radical right.

These are also the themes of his monograph Populist Parties in Europe: Agents of Discontent? (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015). The book covers populist parties of various ideological kinds in long-established Western European countries as well as post-communist countries in Central and Eastern Europe. It presents the results of a mixed-methods research project, combining a fuzzy set Qualitative Comparative Analysis (fsQCA) of 31 European countries with three in-depth case studies of the Netherlands, Poland and the United Kingdom.

Stijn’s more general interests include elections, party competition and party system change in Europe, and related questions of democratic legitimacy.

Click the ‘Publications’ tab for a list of selected academic publications, which are also available through Stijn’s Academia page. Stijn has further published commentaries and analyses for outlets including The Conversation, LSE EUROPP Blog, Newsweek and the European Parties Elections and Referendums Network (EPERN).

At Loughborough, Stijn convenes and teaches the undergraduate modules Comparative European Politics, Conceptions of Democracy and Introduction to Democratic Government. He further teaches on the module Introduction to Academic Studies.

Stijn currently supervises one PhD candidate (Patricia Rodi). Project title: Populist Political Communication Going Mainstream? A study of Western European mainstream political parties’ political communication.

In Düsseldorf, Stijn previously convened and taught the MA course Populism in 21st century Europe. Stijn also supervised BA theses at the VU University Amsterdam and convened BA and MA courses at the Radboud University Nijmegen. As an Associate Tutor at Sussex, Stijn taught on several courses across the fields of comparative politics, research methods and political theory.

Populist Parties in Europe. Agents of Discontent?

Populism is often considered a malign or even dangerous phenomenon in European politics yet it remains unclear what populism is and who its exponents are. This study identifies populist parties across 31 European countries and explains their electoral performance, arguing that their rise is typically driven by perceived mainstream party unresponsiveness. Yet individual populist parties only perform well if they present themselves as credible alternatives to the political establishment.


Stijn van Kessel

Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Populist Parties in Europe. Agents of Discontent?


  • S. van Kessel (2015) Populist Parties in Europe. Agents of Discontent?, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Peer-reviewed journal articles

  • S. van Hauwaert and S. van Kessel (forthcoming) ‘Beyond protest and discontent. A cross-national analysis of the effect of populist attitudes and issue positions on populist party support’, European Journal of Political Research, accepted for publication on 5 April 2017
  • A. Pirro and S. van Kessel (2017) ‘United in Opposition? The Populist Radical Right’s EU-pessimism in Times of Crisis’, Journal of European Integration, published online, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07036337.2017.1281261
  • S. van Kessel and R. Castelein (2016) ‘Shifting the blame. Populist politicians’ use of Twitter as a tool of opposition’, Journal of Contemporary European Research, 12 (2), 594-614.
  • S. van Kessel (2014) ‘The populist cat-dog. Applying the concept of populism to contemporary European party systems’, Journal of Political Ideologies, 19 (1), 99–118.
  • S. van Kessel (2013) ‘A matter of supply and demand: the electoral performance of populist parties in three European countries’, Government and Opposition, 48 (2), 175-199.
  • S. van Kessel (2011) ‘Explaining the electoral performance of populist parties: the Netherlands as a case study’, Perspectives on European Politics and Society, 12 (1), 68-88.
  • T. Bale, S. van Kessel and P. Taggart (2011) 'Thrown around with abandon? Popular understandings of populism as conveyed by the print media: a UK case study', Acta Politica, 46 (2), 111-131.

Journal articles (not peer-reviewed)

  • S. van Kessel and A. Pirro (2014) ‘Discontent on the Move: Prospects for Populist Radical Right Parties in 2014 European Parliament Elections’, Intereconomics, 49 (1), 14-18.

Book chapters

  • S. van Kessel (2016) ‘Using faith to exclude: The role of religion in Dutch populism’,in: N. Marzouki, D. McDonnell and O. Roy (eds.) Saving the People: How Populists Hijack Religion,Oxford University Press (USA) / Hurst (UK), 61-77.
  • S. van Kessel (2016) ‘Like a Hurricane? The ‘winds of populism’ in contemporary Europe’, in: M. Morlok, T. Poguntke and G. Zons (eds.) Etablierungschancen neuer Parteien, Schriften zum Parteienrecht und zur Parteienforschung, Band 51, Baden-Baden: Nomos,145-162.
  • S. van Kessel (2016) ‘No one-trick ponies: the multifaceted appeal of the populist radical right’, in: M. Fielitz and L. Laloire (eds.) Trouble on the Far Right. Contemporary Right-Wing Strategies and Practices in Europe, Bielefeld: Transcript, 37-42.
  • S. van Kessel (2015) ‘Right-wing populism in contemporary Dutch politics’, in: F. Decker, B. Henningsen and K. Jakobsen (eds.) Rechtspopulismus und Rechtsextremismus in Europa. Die Herausforderung der Zivilgesellschaft durch alte Ideologien und neue Medien, Baden-Baden: Nomos, 205-216.
  • S. van Kessel (2015) ‘Dutch Populism during the Crisis’, in: H. Kriesi and T. Pappas (eds.) Populism in the Shadow of the Great Recession, Colchester: ECPR Press, 109-124.
  • Abts, K. and S. van Kessel (2015) ‘Populism’, in: J. Wright (ed.) International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, 2nd edition, Vol 18. Oxford: Elsevier, 609–612.
  • T. Bale, D. Hough and S. van Kessel (2012) ‘In or out of proportion? Labour and social democratic parties’ responses to the radical right’, in: J. Rydgren (ed.) Class Politics and the Radical Right, Oxon: Routledge, 91-106.
  • S. van Kessel (2011) ‘Two of a kind or kind of incompatible? Populist parties in the Dutch and Polish party systems’, in: J. Gijsenbergh, S. Hollander, T. Houwen and W. de Jong (eds.) Creative Crises of Democracy, Brussels: P.I.E. Peter Lang, 381-400.
  • S. van Kessel and A. Krouwel (2011) ‘Van vergankelijke radicale dissidenten tot kwelgeesten van de gevestigde orde. Nieuwe politieke partijen in Nederland en de toekomst van de representative democratie’, in: R. Andeweg and J. Thomassen (eds.) Democratie Doorgelicht, het functioneren van de Nederlandse democratie, Leiden: Leiden University Press, 301-317.

Peer-reviewed working papers/reports

For a full list of publications, please consult https://lboro.academia.edu/StijnvanKessel