Dr Daphne Halikiopoulou: the rise of the far right
Dr Daphne Halikiopoulou is fascinated by why ordinary people engage in extreme acts. This sparked her research into the rise of populism and the far‑right across Europe, which has since become a global phenomenon.
Daphne is passionate about what leads people to take extreme action, such as voting for a far-right party. Typically, we expect the far-right to hold Nazi ideologies like the Golden Dawn in Greece; however, Daphne focuses on the parties who hide their extremism behind a liberal narrative, such as the French Front National, or the Dutch Party for Freedom. By doing so, they blur the line and appear legitimate, thus persuading people who don't consider themselves far-right to vote for them. Daphne is on a mission to expose these parties and raise awareness of their true nature.
One way in which Daphne is drawing attention to this phenomenon is through her teaching at the University of Reading. Daphne's research informs the third-year undergraduate module 'The Far Right', both in terms of the causes of far-right populism and how these extreme parties appear legitimate and attractive to voters. Students frequently inform Daphne's research, sharing their own experiences of extremism from around the world - everyone can relate to her research in one way or another.
Daphne is also achieving her goal of raising awareness on a global public and political scale. There has been a rapid increase in the reaction to her work and she is regularly invited to talk about her research, averaging 15 talks per year around the world. She has also written reports and policy briefs for organisations on the development of policies to encourage more constructive means of political participation. Daphne is successfully informing the debate that these groups engage in, while seeking solutions to put a stop to their rise under false pretences.
"I am so proud of the proliferation of my work. I get invited to do so many interviews and talks around the world, meaning my research has a global reach and is achieving my goal of raising awareness."