Catherine Fieschi

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Catherine Fieschi
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EducationSecondary schools in France Ph.D
Alma materMcGill University
OccupationPolitical analyst

Catherine Fieschi is a political analyst, academic, and author whose work focuses on how culture and society intersect with politics and economics. Fieschi is the founding director of international advisory and research company Counterpoint..[1][2] Fieschi’s work has been credited with conceptualising a “new vision of populism as an ideology”.


Born in Senegal in a family of French diplomats, Fieschi attended secondary schools in France, Italy and the United States before studying at McGill University in Canada. Graduating with a 1st class honours degree in political science, she went on to complete a Ph.D analysing the rise of the French far right in the context of wider European politics in 2000.[3]


In 2005, as Director of the University of Nottingham’s Centre for the Study of European Governance (CSEG), she wrote a series of articles for Prospect_(magazine) that looked at the growing alarmism over far right politics in the UK[4] and the role that emotion plays in left wing politics.[5] She became a contributing editor of Prospect, writing on European and UK politics.[6]

In 2005 Fieschi joined the UK think tank Demos, becoming director in 2008. While at Demos, Fieschi wrote and contributed to reports covering a wide range of social and cultural policy issues including ‘Bringing it Home’[7] which looked at community-based approaches to counterterrorism and ‘UK Confidential’, a collection of essays on privacy issues[8].

Between 2009 and 2011 Fieschi was director of research at The British Council, leading the organisation’s in-house think tank Counterpoint.[9] In 2011, she led the transformation of Counterpoint into an independent research group (and community interest company) focused on helping decision-makers in business and policy to understand “the cultural factors behind financial, political and security risks to understand the threats and opportunities facing their companies”[10] and organisations more broadly.[11]

Fieschi returned to academia for a number of months from late 2019 to establish the Global Policy Institute at Queen Mary University of London.[12]

Comparative approach

Fieschi is a comparative analyst: she specialises in using comparative methods to contextualise political, social and cultural dynamics and writes a regular column that applies these techniques to current global issues for the World Today Magazine, published by Chatham House. She has also used psychoanalytic approaches to explore the relationships between individuals, power and institutions in democracies and the implications for political mobilisation and political outcomes[13].

She is widely recognised as an expert on European politics and the emergence of populism as a global force. She has regularly written for the Guardian on subjects including the role of women in Italian politics[14] and the Le Pen family and Front National[15]. Whilst at Counterpoint, Fieschi oversaw and contributed to several projects and publications on populism in Europe[16]. She has also regularly contributed to the site Open Democracy on the topic[17].

Fieschi published a first book on populism in 2004[18], but in 2019 Fieschi’s work gained greater prominence with the publication of her book ‘Populocracy: The Tyranny of Authenticity and the Rise of Populism’[19]. The book received widespread attention, including in the Financial Times, which highlighted how Fieschi combines “conceptual analysis with real examples to chart the historic evolution of populism.”[20]. A review of the book by Ben Margulies of the London School of Economics complemented Fieschi’s “novel theoretical contributions” as “a welcome addition to the literature on the subject.”

Fieschi’s expertise on populism gained further attention in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic including through essays for Chatham House looking at how governments around the world imposed authority through the crisis[21] and how the use of face coverings is exacerbating cultural divisions[21] and an article in The Guardian on how European far right parties may exploit the pandemic[22].

Work on the politics of integration and multiculturalism

Fieschi has also written extensively on various forms of radicalism, and multiculturalism -- including on the impact of the UK Government’s Prevent strategy on relations with the UK’s Muslim communities[23]. More recently she published a widely quoted and circulated report with Brookings on Islam, secularism and populist politics in France[24]


  1. "Catherine Fieschi is Counterpoint's Founder and Director". Counterpoint.
  2. "Catherine Fieschi - NEXT UK".
  3. "Index Catalog // eScholarship@McGill".
  4. Fieschi, Catherine. "Far right alarmism".
  5. Fieschi, Catherine. "Emotional confusion".
  6. "Catherine Fieschi".
  9. "Catherine Fieschi". Lift Global. October 10, 2012.
  10. Chynoweth, Carly. "Beware of culture shock" – via
  11. "Projects". Counterpoint.
  12. "PR - Queen Mary welcomes inaugural Director of its Global Policy Institute - Queen Mary University of London".
  14. "Italy's female politicians: breakthrough or tokenism? | Catherine Fieschi". the Guardian. May 3, 2013.
  15. "There will be no President Le Pen | Catherine Fieschi". the Guardian. February 8, 2017.
  16. "Populist Fantasies: European revolts in context". Counterpoint. May 7, 2013.
  17. "A plague on both your populisms". openDemocracy.
  18. Fieschi, Catherine (September 4, 2004). "Fascism, Populism and the French Fifth Republic: In the Shadow of Democracy". Manchester University Press – via Google Books.
  19. Fieschi, Catherine (September 8, 2019). "Populocracy: The Tyranny of Authenticity and the Rise of Populism". Agenda Publishing – via Columbia University Press.
  20. "Subscribe to read | Financial Times". {{cite web}}: Cite uses generic title (help)
  21. 21.0 21.1 "Column: The Covid masquerade". Chatham House – International Affairs Think Tank. October 1, 2020.
  22. Fieschi, Catherine (March 17, 2020). "Europe's populists will try to exploit coronavirus. We can stop them | Catherine Fieschi" – via
  23. Fieschi, Catherine; Johnson, Nick (March 1, 2013). "Islam and Muslim Communities in the UK: Multiculturalism, Faith and Security". The International Spectator. 48 (1): 86–101. doi:10.1080/03932729.2013.761744 – via Taylor and Francis+NEJM.

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