The Heinrich Böll Foundation invited us to conduct a workshop on the issue of right-wing populism for one week-end. For this, 21 scholars of the foundation came together in Würzburg / Germany. The first day was dedicated to introducing the topic and to thinking of characteristics and causes of right-wing populism as well as to gathering first ideas on how to deal with it. During the second day the scholars immersed into the Simulation Game ‘Right-Wing Populism in Rexania’ and made a first-hand experience of how dynamics in the political landscape change when right-wing populist parties and movements appear on the scene and how they exploit existing crises and conflict lines within societies in order to gain power. How easy or difficult it was for the participants to identify with certain roles during the simulation game was discussed during the evaluation of the game on the third day. As is often the case, eye-opening moments only occurred while reflecting upon what had happened during the game and while exchanging on the different experiences the participants had made. Finally, based on the experience and learning, we developed strategies for dealing with right-wing populism on a personal and societal level.
The scholars of the Heinrich Böll foundation are students from all over Germany who study all kinds of subjects ranging from electrical engineering, medicine, political science to curative education. To give the scholars the opportunity to broaden their horizons and learn from other fields the Böll Foundation provides seminars like the one we offered on the topic of right-wing populism.
The workshop was designed to raise awareness about characteristics and causes of right-wing populism as well as to acquire first-hand and personal experience of the functioning of right-wing populist parties. Finally, the aim was to develop strategies for countering right-wing populist discourses and movements.