Rival Political Narratives

This project is a programme of research and facilitation focused on creating tools for challenging the rival political narratives that shape xenophobic populist and radical politics. Counterpoint’s analysis focuses on France and Norway.

The project is an opportunity to explore a crucial dimension of how politics happens from below: how myths and rumours develop and spread, how they are influenced by local and regional historical and political cultures, and how these serve to refine the ways in which people engage in politics. Rival political narratives and alternative explanations for events are crucial examples of how popular cultural narratives can undermine trust in liberal democratic institutions.

Our approach is evidenced-based and holistic. We engage with rival political narratives in order to understand them and the wider social and cultural background within which they become available political resources, catalysts for discontent, and tactics for mobilisation. With a focus on xenophobic stories of elite complicity and treachery, our aim is to facilitate conversations about how these often insidious and dangerous versions of reality can be checked, challenged and finally short-circuited.

The project will be a collaborative initiative with a range of organisations. Our principle project partner is the Hungary-based political consultancy Political Capital. Working on a range of strategic issues, from right wing extremism to election research and economic forecasting, Political Capital is a market leader in their region, and will be managing the Eastern Dimension of the project, including work in Slovakia, Poland and Hungary. Other cooperating institutions include: the Center for Research on Prejudice, the Zachor Foundation and the Institute for Public Affairs.

Counterpoint’s participation in the project is supported by Open Society Foundations. Other contributors to the project include: Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research, the Visegrad Fund and the European Jewish Fund.

Project news

Rival Political Narratives – Project Compilation

Rival Political Narratives – Project Compilation

Highlights from our pan-European project

Mapping the “complosphère”

Mapping the “complosphère”

A new interactive map from our "Rival Political Narratives" project

New pamphlet on Norwegian populism

New pamphlet on Norwegian populism

Today we launch a new pamphlet by the FT's Martin Sandbu


Strategic advice to manage new forms of cultural and social risks

Decoding cultures and making sense of context

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Interpreting public behaviour and emotions

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Crafting the right conversations

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News & events

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The roots of contemporary populism in the Netherlands

In light of this week’s elections in The Netherlands, here is something we published a couple of years ago on the rise of Dutch...

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Europe’s riddle: Migration, community experiences and public opinion

Counterpoint examines the local experience of migration and integration across five European countries in light of the 2014-2015 migration crisis. Our research in Sweden,...


The wide open space of the French elections

This is a good time to review the dynamics of what is turning out to be a much more open field than anyone would...