How populism can strengthen democracy, not imperil it



Populism has long been a contested and ambiguous concept, notes Michael Kazin, who teaches history at Georgetown University:

Scholars debate whether it is a creed, a style, a political strategy, a marketing ploy, or some combination of the above. Populists are praised as defenders of the values and needs of the hard-working majority and condemned as demagogues who prey on the ignorance of the uneducated.

But at its best, populism provides a language that can strengthen democracy, not imperil it, Kazin writes for Foreign Affairs.

Seven essays under the heading The Specter Haunting Europeaddress the growing threats to Europe’s liberal democracies, in the National Endowment for Democracy’s Journal of Democracy:

In “Distinguishing Liberal Democracy’s Challengers,” Takis Pappas opens the discussion by mapping out the landscape of parties–antidemocrats,” “nativists,” and “populists”–that are challenging Europe’s liberal-democratic consensus. Ivan Krastev concludes the section with “The Unraveling of the Post-1989 Order,” a far-ranging set of reflections that call for a new understanding of the post-Cold War era and explain why the migration issue is at the center of the current European crisis. In between are essays on Germany, France, and Poland, on the decline of the European left, and on the especially severe regression of liberal democracy in East-Central Europe.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email