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
11.30-13.30 Tuesdays (27 AP 01); 16-17 Thursdays (Teams) (book via Calendly)

Academic and research departments

Centre for Britain and Europe, Department of Politics.


University roles and responsibilities

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

    Affiliations and memberships

    Editor in Chief
    Political Research Exchange
    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 interests



    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.

    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.

    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.

    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 (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
    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.

    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, H.J Trenz (2019)Civil society and the EU, In: M. Cini, N. Perez-Soloranzo (eds.), European Union Politics Oxford University Press
    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