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Law, Economics, Politics and Populism

 The Law, Economics, Politics and Populism’ (LEPP) Research Cluster brings together scholars and practitioners who have interdisciplinary expertise on the emergence and flourishing of the different forms of populisms with experts in law, economics, politics and communication.

The LEPP Research Cluster aims at attracting the best scholars and thinkers on populisms. We are a group of international faculty members, fellows, and postgraduate students with a commitment to advance high-calibre research on populisms. 

The LEPP Research Cluster will research and inform understanding of populism. It will explore these matters with a rich interdisciplinary perspective. It will also conduct research into law, economics and political communication and relate that research agenda to the phenomenon of populism. 

The members of the LEPP Research Cluster regularly appear on media, and are pleased to be invited to contribute to public debates through media appearances, public institutions’ events and scholarly activities. 

The academic study of populism is important if we are to understand the phenomenon and its relationship with public policy. The cluster will study and research the practical manifestations of populisms in economic policies, legal reforms, and mediated politics. In so doing, we will better understand the fundamental basis to the rise and persistence of populisms in liberal democracies.

Many of the results of populism lea to changes in legislation that can have an important economic effect. The other strand of the cluster’s work will involve there study of legal institutions and their relationship with the public policy process and economic outcomes.

The LEPP Research Cluster facilitates collaboration across academia, policy, and the industry.


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Dr Aurelien Portuese

Director of the LEPP Research Cluster. His particular interest is in the role of populism in promoting antitrust policy activism. Senior Lecturer in Law at St Mary’s University, Dr Aurelien Portuese is an expert on competition law and economics. 

Prof Philip Booth

Professor of Finance, Public Policy and Ethics. His particular research interests are in the importance of self- governing institutions of regulation within markets and the relationship between property rights, Catholic social teaching and the common good. Programme Lead for Economic Populism. Philip is also Dean of the Faculty of Education, Humanities and Social Sciences at St Mary’s. 

sandersProf Karen Sanders

Professor of Communication and Politics. She has published widely in the areas of political and populist communication, and journalism ethics. Karen is a member of the EU COST network Populist Political Communication in Europe: Comprehending the Challenge of Mediate Political Populism for Democratic Politics. Karen is also St Mary’s University Dean of Research. 

Dr André Azevedo 

Alves is Reader in Economics and Public Policy at St Mary’s. He has published widely in political economy and public choice, including on the influence of constitutions on economic freedom. Andre is also Lecturer at the Catholic University of Portugal where he is Director of Centro de Estudos e Sondagens de Opinao. 

This programme involves the study of how populism impacts on debates relating to competition policy. We propose rigorous economic analysis of competition policy rather than politically-laden competition reforms proposed by antitrust populists. 

The work in the field of economics and law will examine the development of institutions of governance within markets, the relationship between property rights Catholic social teaching and the common good and the political institutions necessary for economic success and sustainability. 

The work in politics and communication will examine the implications of populist communication and politics for democratic politics and the common good. We will offer cutting-edge analysis to help understand the phenomenon and its impact on the political systems as well as providing education-focussed content that impacts society. 


The LEPP has a Working Paper Series to enable members and fellows of the LEPP to publish their researches before publication in peer-reviewed journals or in books. The LEPP has a mini-website where a blog is hosted to discuss current issues of interests for LEPP research members.

The LEPP organises an Annual Conference convening international scholars to present their cutting-edge research on populism analyzed from an interdisciplinary perspectives. Also, the LEPP contribute to the Education, Humanities and Social Science Research Seminar Series where global scholars are invited to present and discuss one of their research outputs. 

The LEPP welcomes visits, long and short, from academics from other institutions or from doctoral students. Please contact us if you are interested. We also welcome doctoral students and would like to hear from other academics who wish to collaborate on research and grant applications or who would like to give a seminar series.