Simona Guerra

Dr Simona Guerra


Senior Lecturer in Comparative Politics
DPhil (Sussex), MSc (Sussex), MA (Siena, Strasbourg, Krakow), BA (Pisa)
+44 (0)1483 682364
27 AP 01
14-15 on Tuesdays & 11.30-12.30 on Thursdays in person (27 AP 01); 16-17 on Wednesdays via Teams

Academic and research departments

Centre for Britain and Europe, Department of Politics.

About

University roles and responsibilities

  • Convener, Foundation Year
  • Athena SWAN Lead (Bronze Athena Award, March 2023)

    Affiliations and memberships

    Visiting Professor, Sapienza University of Rome
    Visiting Professor (with Scholarship) 2023 (DR 05/07/2022, by decision of the Academic Senate 11/10/2022 and Administrative Council 27/10/2022)

    Research

    Research interests

    Teaching

    Publications

    Simona Guerra (2023)Religion and Euroscepticism in Post-Communist Europe Taylor and Francis

    In communist Eastern Europe the churches were often a focus for opposition to communism, and in the immediate post-communist period the churches often played a key role in fostering national cohesion, in promoting a conservative political agenda, sometimes in formal alliances with political parties, and in rewriting national narratives to eliminate or revise communist versions of such narratives. These activities, which are implicitly conservative and nationalistic, are not naturally in step with European integration. This book explores the relationship between religion and politics in post-communist Europe, focusing especially on the degree to which religion, and religious involvement in politics, encourage Euroscepticism. The book, which covers a range of East European countries, shows how religion is very important as a political force, how religion’s contribution to Euroscepticism varies between countries, and how in some circumstances, especially when a religious-based party is in power and has to deal with Brussels, religion can favour European integration. The book includes coverage of Catholic, Orthodox and Muslim countries, and includes discussion of how religious organisations, which often engage in lobbying in Brussels, relate to the European Union itself. 1. Introduction 2. When Religion Becomes Eurosceptic: A Theoretical Framework 3. An Anti-Semitic Narrative: The Polish Case 4. Identity, but Pro-EU: The Case of Croatia 5. 'Evil Threatens to Take Over the World': The Case of Serbia 6. Instability and Different Churches: The Case of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia 7. Religion and the Democratic Struggle: The Case of Montenegro 8. The Post-Communist Region and Religions Conclusions Simona Guerra is a Lecturer in Politics at the University of Leicester, UK

    Evangelos Fanoulis, SIMONA GUERRA (2021)Aporias in Greece and Spain’s Left-Wing Inclusionary Populism, In: New Political Science43(3)pp. 339-354 Routledge

    Populism has gained new momentum in Southern Europe during the financial crisis. Germany’s role as top creditor fueled anger toward traditional political elites in Greece, whereas Podemos exploited the same crisis in Spain to “generate discursively a popular identity that [could] be politicized.” Drawing upon Derrida’s aporetic notion of hospitality, the article argues that left-wing populism in Greece and Spain projects an antagonistic Other. This Other, both threatening and welcomed at the home of the people, oscillates ambiguously between images of the EU and corrupted national political elites. To support this argument, our narrative proceeds with comparative discourse analysis, looking at speeches of political leaders in the run-up of elections in the two countries.

    Simona Guerra, John FitzGibbon (2019)Transnational Euroscepticism vs Transnational Euroalternativism, In: ECPR European Consortium for Political Research

    Peter Mair argued that the lack of an institutional framework that facilitates the contestation over European politics makes European integration politics a “zero-sum game”. Yet, in the time following this statement the dynamism of Euroscepticism has allowed it to evolve its strategy beyond national contestation of the EU into a ‘transnational European political space’ (FitzGibbon et al. 2016). The centralisation of economic and financial supervision in response to the ‘Eurocrisis’ has provided Eurosceptics with the opportunity for structuring a new form of pan-European contestation that has adapted to these new policy realities. Understanding this evolution of Eurosceptic strategy helps, in part, to explain why a nativist politician, Matteo Salvini, is now calling for a pan-Eurosceptic alliance. This development gives rise to important questions; principally can this form of transnational contestation be described as Euroscepticism? And, if so, what type? We argue that the recent 2019 EP elections demonstrate opposing (successful) transnational Eurosceptic collaborations: on the right, opposing EU integration on the political and economic side, protecting national sovereignty, in particular with regard to the immigration agenda; and on the left, adopting a Euro-alternative agenda, pointing to accountability, transparency, legitimacy, democracy, the role of the ECB, and a border-free Europe. This is a significant development as the EP has long been the arena in which the ‘zeitgeist’ of Euroscepticism has manifested itself and the surface of new forms of contestation (Caiani and Guerra 2017) towards the EU.

    Simona Guerra, H.J Trenz (2019)Civil society and the EU, In: M. Cini, N. Perez-Soloranzo (eds.), European Union Politics Oxford University Press
    Simona Guerra (2019)Immigration, that’s what everyone’s thinking about John Benjamins Publishing

    This article examines the 2016 British EU referendum and the domestic debates through the citizens’ voices in the media, specifically on the emotions and narratives, on The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph and The Daily Express, the week before the referendum. British citizens felt, in their words, “bullied because of [their] political correctness” and pointed their anger and dissatisfaction against the EU (and Merkel’s) “obsession for open borders”. The analysis underlines that these emotions and narratives, combining immigration and sovereignty, have remained embedded in the post-Brexit days, and go back not just to Billig’s banal nationalism (1995), but show that voting Leave represented respect towards true British values, the “core country” as conceptualised by Taggart (2000). Powellism (Hampshire 2018) and Wright’s “encroanchment” of Englishness (2017), and the analysis on the immigration narrative explain how anti-immigration and sovereignty discourse is persisting and is influencing, more broadly, the social and political relation of Britain with Europe.

    Alexandra Segerberg, Simona Guerra (2019)Editorial, In: Political research exchange1(1) Taylor & Francis
    Simona Guerra (2020)The Historical Roots of Euroscepticism in Poland, In: M Gilbert, D Pasquinucci (eds.), Euroscepticismspp. 190-204 Brill
    Simona Guerra (2022)Studying the EU and its Pioneers The Role of Women as Makers and Shapers of the Early Years of EU Integration, In: Politique européenne78(4)pp. 104-132 Editions L Harmattan

    How we study and see the European Union (EU) affects how we engage with it. Recent works on biographies of relevant women for the European integration process and on gender and EU politics contribute to the mainstreaming of gender in EU studies. Yet, we still lack the presence of women in the narrative on the early stages of European history and politics, where women's absence is well visible in their persistent marginalization. This analysis contributes to this debate by suggesting the definitive establishment of studies on the women of these early years as makers and shapers of European integration.

    Simona Guerra (2020)Brexit: The EU27’s Momentary Lapse of Unity, In: Political insight (Political Studies Association of the United Kingdom)11(2)pp. 34-36
    Simona Guerra, Monika Bil (2009)ELECTION OR REFERENDUM? THE 2007 PRE-TERM POLISH ELECTION, In: Representation (McDougall Trust)45(1)pp. 75-85
    SIMONA GUERRA (2021)The M5S: From the stars to government, In: Uprising of the Outsiders Nomos
    SIMONA GUERRA (2020)Understanding public Euroscepticism, In: Quaderni dell’Osservatorio Elettorale QOE - IJES83(2)pp. 45-56 Firenze University Press

    Euroscepticism has become more and more embedded both at the EU and national levels (Usherwood et al. 2013) and persistent across domestic debates (Usherwood and Startin 2013). This study presents an in-depth analysis of contemporary narratives of Euroscepticism. It first introduces its question related to understanding public Euroscepticism, following the British EU referendum campaign and outcome, to then present the established literature, and the analysis of the British case study. A survey run in Britain in May 2019 shows that, as already noted by Oliver Daddow (2006, 2011), Euroscepticism is very much identifiable in the traditional narratives of Europe as the Other. Context accountability (Daddow 2006) is still cause for concern in Britain and by assuming a more positive view of a European Britain (Daddow 2006) does not make the debate more informed. Images, narratives and specific issues to reform the Eurosceptic toolbox into a more neutral, but informative, instrument could be applied at the grassroots level, as the post-referendum demonstrations and manifestations have shown. British citizens are reclaiming their own European citizenship, and deconstructing existing Euromyths can be a first small step forward.

    Evangelos Fanoulis, Simona Guerra (2018)Anger and protest: referenda and opposition to the EU in Greece and the United Kingdom, In: Cambridge Review of International Affairs30(4)pp. 305-324 Routledge

    The public image of the European Union (EU) has met increasingly negative evaluations since the economic and financial crisis hit its peak. Although opposition towards the EU has been pitched as a temporary phenomenon, it has now become a distinctive characteristic of European integration, described as ‘embedded’. Recent analyses on citizens’ attitudes towards the EU underline a rational utilitarian dimension, stressing that EU attachment is affected by future life expectations. Are rationalist perspectives the only possible explanation behind the rise of Euroscepticism, though? This article offers an alternative approach, by using discourse analysis, and examines how emotions, as embedded in Eurosceptic discursive frames and practices, may affect attitudes towards the EU. We argue that an analysis of citizens’ opposition through emotions when the salience of the EU increases can show how a Eurosceptic emotion-laden public discourse may become prominent at the domestic level.

    Roberta Guerrina, Theofanis Exadaktylos, Simona Guerra (2018)Gender, ownership and engagement during the European Union referendum: gendered frames and the reproduction of binaries, In: European Journal of Politics & Gender1(3)pp. pp 387-404 Bristol University Press

    The European Union referendum was supposed to be a significant moment for political engagement and ownership in the UK. This article looks at how the two official European Union referendum campaigns (Vote Leave and Remain) framed discussions about the UK’s membership of the European Union, as well as the impact of the campaign on women’s political activation. Using data from a survey questionnaire conducted two weeks after the European Union referendum (in July 2016), we analyse women’s sense of political efficacy and engagement with European politics. We project those findings on a frame analysis, where we assess the footprint of each campaign in terms of issue coverage and the salience of gender as a campaign issue. Our findings shed light on the way in which issue framing and confidence affect the quality of political engagement among ‘weak publics’.

    Simona Guerra (2019)“Immigration, that’s what everyone’s thinking about …”, In: Journal of Language and Politics18(5)pp. 651-670 John Benjamins Publishing

    This article examines the 2016 British EU referendum and the domestic debates through the citizens’ voices in the media, specifically on the emotions and narratives, on The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph and The Daily Express, the week before the referendum. British citizens felt, in their words, “bullied because of [their] political correctness” and pointed their anger and dissatisfaction against the EU (and Merkel’s) “obsession for open borders”. The analysis underlines that these emotions and narratives, combining immigration and sovereignty, have remained embedded in the post-Brexit days, and go back not just to Billig’s banal nationalism (1995), but show that voting Leave represented respect towards true British values, the “core country” as conceptualised by Taggart (2000). Powellism (Hampshire 2018) and Wright’s “encroanchment” of Englishness (2017), and the analysis on the immigration narrative explain how anti-immigration and sovereignty discourse is persisting and is influencing, more broadly, the social and political relation of Britain with Europe.

    Evangelos Fanoulis, Simona Guerra (2020)Veridiction and Leadership in Transnational Populism: The Case of DiEM25, In: Politics and Governance8(1)pp. 217-225 Cogitatio Press

    While research tends to explore questions of power and leadership at the national level, populism in Europe has moved beyond national borders, with an increasing number of transnational movements and organizations. This article investigates the Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 (DiEM25) and its leadership’s main speeches. Informed by both discourse theory and Michel Foucault’s work on parrhesia (veridiction), the analysis draws on readings of transnational Euroalternativism and populism, pointing out the conflicting logic of bringing them together at the transnational level. Our findings thus stress the increasing politicization of European integration as an opportunity to mobilize transnational activities, which are based on the populist ‘people vs. the elites’ dichotomy and against Brussels’ unaccountable elites (see FitzGibbon & Guerra, 2019), while indicating the limits of leadership in a populist transnational movement (de Cleen, Moffitt, Panayotu, & Stavrakakis, 2019; Marzolini & Souvlis, 2016).

    How we study and see the European Union (EU) affect how we engage with it. Recent works on biographies of relevant women for the European integration process and on gender and EU politics contribute to the mainstreaming of gender in EU studies. Yet, we still lack the presence of women in the narrative on the early stages of European history and politics, where women’s absence is well visible in their persistent marginalization. This analysis contributes to this debate by suggesting the definitive establishment of studies on the women of these early years as makers and shapers of European integration. La façon dont nous étudions et voyons l'Union européenne (UE) affecte notre interaction avec celle-ci. Des travaux récents sur les biographies de femmes qui ont joué un rôle central pour le processus d'intégration européenne ainsi que sur le genre et la politique de l'UE contribuent à l'intégration du genre dans les études européennes. Pourtant, les femmes restent encore largement absentes et marginalisées dans les récits des premières étapes de l'histoire et de la politique européennes. Cet article contribue à ce débat en suggérant l’établissement définitif d’un champ d'études sur les femmes et leur rôle de créatrices et façonneuses de l’intégration européenne.

    Yannis Mylonas, Simona Guerra (2023)The Russian Populism of the Narodniki: Contexts, Affinities, and Legacies, In: Research Handbook on Populism Edward Elgar

    In this chapter, we approach the ideological trajectory of 19 th century Russian populism, focusing on the challenges and contradictions that the Narodniki faced in their aspirations and practices. By rejecting the time's politico-economic and social developments occurring in the West, the Narodniki hoped to advance a grassroots revolutionary movement without resorting to politics, and to develop socialism in Russia without passing through capitalism. The tactics developed by different Narodniki groups in their efforts to connect with the peasantry, did not bring the expected results to overthrow the tsarist autocracy and develop socialism. Therefore, some Narodniki groups came to engage with conspiratory activities, while others came closer to Marxism. Our analysis foregrounds the features of the Narodniki, their theoretical and political relations and differences with Marxism in particular, and at the same time, it also discusses the affinities and differences of the Russian populists with contemporary populist phenomena.

    Manuela Caiani, Simona Guerra (2017)Euroscepticism, democracy and the media Palgrave Macmillan
    Manuela Caiani, Simona Guerra (2017)Communicating Europe, Contesting Europe: An Introduction, In: M Caiani, S Guerra (eds.), Euroscepticism, Democracy and the Mediapp. 1-20 Springer Nature
    Simona Guerra (2017)Eurosceptic Voices: Beyond Party Systems, Across Civil Society, In: M Caiani, S Guerra (eds.), Euroscepticism, Democracy and the Mediapp. 21-48 Springer Nature
    Simona Guerra Introduction: Europe and Europeans, In: Central and Eastern European Attitudes in the Face of Unionpp. 1-21 Palgrave Macmillan UK

    After the Danish rejection of the Treaty on European Union (EU) (1992), the legitimizing relationship between public opinion and European integration acquired more salience, as the ‘readiness of European political elites to use’ referendums provoked uncertain developments around the EU project (Taggart and Szczerbiak, 2005). As the ‘permissive consensus’ was not assured, mass attitudes became ‘both a measure and a determinant of the process of EUropean integration’ (Gabel, 1998a, p. 9). EU politics was no longer an elite-driven process, and the role of public opinion became a determinant in shaping its agenda. The question of what determines public support for the EU has been widely examined, focusing on the domestic context (Anderson 1998; Gabel, 1998a), political parties (Ray, 2003a, b), and perceived cultural threats (Carey, 2002; McLaren, 2006). Further contributions to the study of public support for the EU stressed the importance of cultural factors, where one of the ‘most vital … elements is religion’ (Nelsen et al., 2001, p. 192; Nelsen et al., 2011).

    Simona Guerra Conclusion, In: Central and Eastern European Attitudes in the Face of Unionpp. 139-152 Palgrave Macmillan UK

    In the first chapter, this book introduced its research question (Q) What drives support before and after accession in Poland? Previous research (Cichowski, 2000) pointed to analyses at one point in time, while patterns in citizens’ attitudes could be expected to change over time. This book answers to how determinants of public support for the EU change before and after EU accession. This study also presents what determines support for and opposition to EU integration in a post-Communist EU member state after accession.

    Simona Guerra (2016)Distrust unbound: What next after joining the EU, In: Communist and post-communist studies49(3)pp. 233-241 Elsevier

    The 2004-07 EU enlargement towards the post-communist region showed that the long waiting for EU membership could impact on levels of public support for the EU. This article examines citizens' trust towards national and international institutions after joining the EU in Poland, in comparative perspective. In the post-Communist region, levels of trust towards national institutions are generally lower compared to the European and international ones. Politicians and political parties are the most distrusted actors, undermining the social and political fabric in the region. An overview of political participation and levels of trust with focus on national data sets and the European Social Survey shows that levels of trust are quite low and a share of the population is concerned with sovereignty vis-a-vis EU integration. This analysis addresses how the relationship between citizens and institutions have changed and how this may affect not just the EU's policies towards candidate countries and third countries, but how it can also affect citizen participation during the process of democratization and after joining the EU. (C) 2016 Published by Elsevier Ltd on behalf of The Regents of the University of California.

    Vit Hlousek, Simona Guerra (2015)CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPEAN ATTITUDES IN THE FACE OF UNION(2)pp. 168-169 Masaryk Univ Press
    Simona Guerra Patterns of Support for, and Opposition to, European Integration as a Candidate Country, In: Central and Eastern European Attitudes in the Face of Unionpp. 22-52 Palgrave Macmillan UK

    How public support for the EU is structured in the short term in Poland may offer insight into the way in which it will develop in all the CEE states. In addition, findings can suggest patterns of support well beyond this comparative perspective and be applied to the EU member states and current candidate countries. This study contends that the Polish study can be examined in the comparative framework of CEE, applied to the EU28, and beyond.

    Simona Guerra Voting for or against Europe, In: Central and Eastern European Attitudes in the Face of Unionpp. 83-100 Palgrave Macmillan UK

    In 2004 the EP elections brought citizens of 27 EU countries out to vote, highlighting a wide ‘Eurogap’ between the old member states, plus Malta and Cyprus, and the eight post-Communist member states. About 55.63 per cent voted in the ‘old Europe’ and Malta and Cyprus, compared with only 31.19 per cent who casted their vote in the new EU member states. When Bulgaria voted in May 2007, turnout was at 29.22 percent and in November 2007 in Romania it halted at 29.47 per cent. In 2009 the general average decreasing trend, registered since the first EP elections took place, did not alter. Also, the ‘Eurogap’ between old member states plus Malta and Cyprus (54.01 per cent) and the post-Communist new EU member states (22.93 per cent) was almost unvaried.

    Sarah L. de Lange, Simona Guerra (2009)The League of Polish Families between East and West, past and present, In: Communist and post-communist studies42(4)pp. 527-549 Univ California Press

    Historical legacies play an important role in the rise of radical right parties in Central and Eastern Europe. This article conducts an in-depth study of the trajectory of a particular radical right party, the League of Polish Families, in a particular Central and East European country, Poland. The central objective of the article is to highlight that, although there are important similarities between the League of Polish Families and other radical right parties in both Central and Eastern Europe and Western Europe, the League of Polish Families differs in some respects, such as the composition of electorate and ideology from these parties. The article shows that the observed differences have their roots in the Polish historical legacy, that on some accounts deviates from the historical legacies present in other Central and East European countries. (C) 2009 Published by Elsevier Ltd on behalf of The Regents of the University of California.

    Simona Guerra Euroscepticism and the Next Enlargements, In: Central and Eastern European Attitudes in the Face of Unionpp. 121-138 Palgrave Macmillan UK

    This chapter draws upon the findings of the previous chapters of this book. In Chapters 2 and 3 the analysis stressed increasing levels of Euroscepticism in the run-up to accession. Also, the comparative analysis highlighted the parallel electoral success of populist parties. Here, the chapter presents a theme that the in-depth examination of the Polish case brought to light: after the opening of the negotiation process and the long period of waiting, it is easier for populist parties to channel citizens’ dissatisfaction, particularly pointing to Euroscepticism, using it as external face of their empty ideological box – in their ‘chameleonic’ nature (Taggart, 2000). It is likely that favourable institutional settings, high volatility rates, and the new politics – absorbed by the CEE countries (Wisniowski, 2000) – together with a large agrarian sector (as in Poland and Romania) and the success or failure of the economic transition (Mungiu-Pippidi, 2001) can favour the emergence of the accession populism, that type of populism rising specifically on the verge of accession and using Euroscepticism as its external face.

    Simona Guerra Information on the EU: Poland and Central and Eastern Europe, In: Central and Eastern European Attitudes in the Face of Unionpp. 101-120 Palgrave Macmillan UK

    Analyses on the 2004 EP elections found that information plays a fundamental role in citizens’ choices (Wessels, 2007), particularly visibility ‘matters’ (De Vreese et al., 2006). As this book is primarily concerned on how and why attitudes change, information, as knowledge on the EU, can represent an important factor. The comparative overview on the role of information in the 2004 and 2009 EP elections stresses the correlation between information and turnout. Focus groups carried out in Central and Eastern Europe in 2007 and 2009 confirm information matters. This chapter explores whether citizens are interested in the EU and if they felt they received the information they expected in the run-up to the accession referendum and European elections.

    Simona Guerra, Manuela Caiani (2017)Europe Facing New Challenges of Contestation and Communication: Conclusion, In: M Caiani, S Guerra (eds.), Euroscepticism, Democracy and the Mediapp. 263-272 Springer Nature
    Simona Guerra (2020)The politics of the EU as crisis, mobilization and catharsis, In: Comparative European politics (Houndmills, Basingstoke, England)18pp. 982-991 Springer

    Through the analysis of the crisis, and its impact on European identity and on politics and party systems, this review provides three contributions. First, the persistence of crisis throughout the history of European integration is explained as a significant factor strengthening the EU and triggering the emergence of the social construction of embedded narratives. These tensions deal with identity, culture and attitudes towards the EU, but also with the EU at the political level and the role of the EU as global actor. This leads to the second debate, with a focus on the different impact the crisis has had, by examining the case of the United Kingdom, Poland and Germany. The crisis indicates the salience of the national contexts, institutions, actors and narratives, shaping the responses, while the domestic experiences, towards the responses themselves, stress divergences and differences across member states. Third, the focus on Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain, and their party system, addresses the possible prolonged long-lasting crisis, characterizing the Southern member states. As Jean Monnet wrote, it is not the institutions that create the EU, but the people who shape the institutions. Further research can address how the EU is differently represented, experienced and articulated.

    SIMONA GUERRA (2021)LA TORSIONE ILLIBERALE E IL RAPPORTO CON L'UE, In: Italianieuropei Italianieuropei

    This volume focuses on the relationship between the media and European democracy, as important factors of EU legitimacy. The contributors show how the media play a crucial role in making European governance accountable, and how it can act as an intermediate link between citizens and their elected and unelected representatives.

    Daniela Vintila, Laura Morales, Luis Ramiro, Simona Guerra, Angeliki Konstantinidou, Gabriella Lazaridis (2016)The Political Representation of Citizens of Immigrant Origin in Spain, Italy and Greece, In: ECPR European Consortium for Political Research

    During the 1990s and the 2000s, Spain, Italy and Greece experienced a considerable growth of immigration. In just two decades, the immigrant population has multiplied more than fivefold in all three countries and by the end of the 2000s, residents of immigrant origin already accounted for 7 per cent of the overall population in Italy, 8 per cent in Greece and 13 per cent in Spain, respectively. This accelerated demographic change has put pressure on the democratic representative system of these countries, with large numbers of new residents and new citizens wishing to have a voice in the direction of collective affairs. Yet, their possibilities of securing political representation might have been constrained not only by the institutional and partisan setting in these “new” countries of immigration in Europe, but also by the fact that the public opinion has become increasingly concerned about immigration and immigrants’ integration in all three cases. As we will show, the levels of descriptive representation of citizens of immigrant origin (CIOs) are still very reduced and quite distant to those found in other European countries, thus pointing to a common ‘South European’ pattern. The paper examines how the above-mentioned institutional and societal factors have affected parties’ strategies in relation to the incorporation of CIOs into elected office and how issues relating to timing, the size of the CIO electorate (as opposed to the CIO resident population), and party competition dynamics might help us understand the descriptive representation gaps. The paper further explores their substantive political representation, by systematically comparing the behaviour of CIO and non-CIO elected representatives in the parliamentary arena in Spain, Italy and Greece.

    Simona Guerra (2020)Poland and the EU: The historical roots of resilient forms of Euroscepticism among public Euroenthusiasm, In: Mark Gilbert, Daniele Pasquinucci (eds.), Euroscepticisms: The Historical Roots of a Political Challenge Brill Publishing

    Additional publications