Populism is Janus-faced. There is not a single form of populism but rather a variety of different forms, each with profoundly different political consequences. Despite the current hegemony of authoritarian populism, a much different sort of populism is also possible: democratic and antiestablishment populism, which combines elements of liberal and democratic convictions. When we examine the relationship between populism and constitutional democracy, populism should not be considered in isolation from its host ideology. Examples of democratic, liberal, socially inclusive forms of populism quite clearly show that authoritarianism and anti-pluralism are not necessarily the key elements of populism. However, the paucity of democratic populism also suggests that we have to look at factors other than ideology to understand why nativist and authoritarian populism currently dominates the political scene. Without understanding the political economy of the populist revolt, it is difficult to understand the true roots of populism and, consequently, to devise an appropriate democratic alternative to authoritarian populism. The ascendancy of right-wing nationalist populism today is a symptom of the failure of progressive politics.
Read the full article at the Annual Review of Law and Science here.