Special Issue "The Resurgence of Populism: Tackling the Crisis of Liberal Democracy"

A special issue of Social Sciences (ISSN 2076-0760).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2021) | Viewed by 6725

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Oliver Schmidtke
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Centre for Global Studies, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC V8P 5C2, Canada
Interests: migration; citizenship; nationalism; populism
Prof. Dr. Jeremy Webber
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Faculty of Law, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC V8P 5C2, Canada
Interests: constitutional theory; comparative constitutional law; democratic theory; cultural diversity; indigenous rights; legal pluralism
Dr. Eszter Bodnár
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Constitutional Law, Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE), Egyetem tér 1-3, Budapest, 1053, Hungary
Interests: international human rights; comparative constitutional law; European constitutional law

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The current rise of populism constitutes a fundamental challenge to liberal democracy, its established actors and institutions. The form of “agonistic politics” that populism represents thrives by claiming to represent the vox populi, the direct and genuine “voice of the people” defined by the dramatized contrast to the political elite or establishment. The normatively charged debate on whether populism is simply the polarizing, illiberal resentment of the elite or a genuine force of democratic mobilization against an unresponsive political establishment calls for a sober and empirically grounded assessment of the link between populism and democracy. This Special Issue on populism and democracy will address the following questions: What is at the core of the populist critique of democratic practice and how does it reflect structural deficiencies in contemporary liberal democracy?  What do the ideologically competing forms of populist mobilization offer to address the shortcomings of and frustration with current democratic practices and institutions?

Prof. Dr. Oliver Schmidtke
Prof. Dr. Jeremy Webber
Dr. Eszter Bodnár
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Populism
  • Democracy
  • Social Movements
  • Rights
  • Liberalism
  • Constitutionalism
  • Protest
  • Governance

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

Article
Resurgence, Populism, and Politics ‘From Below’
Soc. Sci. 2021, 10(11), 422; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci10110422 - 04 Nov 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1033
Abstract
Populist politics are an increasingly prominent feature of contemporary politics around the world. In settler colonies, Indigenous resurgence is also an increasingly important feature of political contestation. Both discourses involve questions of peoplehood, pluralism, and collective agency. The goal of this paper is [...] Read more.
Populist politics are an increasingly prominent feature of contemporary politics around the world. In settler colonies, Indigenous resurgence is also an increasingly important feature of political contestation. Both discourses involve questions of peoplehood, pluralism, and collective agency. The goal of this paper is to explore these phenomena side by side, and ask what they reveal about the present political conjuncture. I argue that both political projects involve a constructive element, as actors build spaces of political contestation beyond the state. In this way, each movement involves an often overlooked contest between politics ‘from above’ and ‘from below’. Ultimately, I conclude that the above/below distinction reveals important cleavages that are obscured by the traditional left/right distinction that structures much political analysis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Resurgence of Populism: Tackling the Crisis of Liberal Democracy)
Article
Popular Republicanism versus Populism: Articulating the People
Soc. Sci. 2021, 10(10), 366; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci10100366 - 29 Sep 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2007
Abstract
In problematic ways, populism has become a catch-all formula used with discretion to capture all kinds of discontent with democratic politics today. Populism is not only an essentially contested, but also an unavoidably blurred concept. Its recurrent use as a weapon to discredit [...] Read more.
In problematic ways, populism has become a catch-all formula used with discretion to capture all kinds of discontent with democratic politics today. Populism is not only an essentially contested, but also an unavoidably blurred concept. Its recurrent use as a weapon to discredit all kinds of projects that challenge contemporary liberal democracies has led to a situation in which protest movements that aim at democratic renewal end up being conflated with opposite tendencies whose objective is a reactionary scaling down of democracy. Against this background, this article argues that both for political and for analytical purposes, the key point for distinguishing between “progressive” and “regressive” projects that address the crisis of democracy is to determine how such projects conceive of the identity of the people. Invoking the people is not per se an attribute of populism, but ultimately a feature of all kinds of democratic politics. What does make for a critical difference, though, is how peoplehood is articulated in the process of collective mobilization. The distinction becomes particularly relevant with regard to current debates on how to tackle the issue of diversity and democratic integration in Europe and North America. To substantiate this relevance, the article introduces the concept of popular republicanism, which is fleshed out by discussing two recent examples: Catalan sovereignism and the Kurdish-Turkish HDP. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Resurgence of Populism: Tackling the Crisis of Liberal Democracy)
Article
‘We the People’: Demarcating the Demos in Populist Mobilization—The Case of the Italian Lega
Soc. Sci. 2021, 10(10), 351; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci10100351 - 23 Sep 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1314
Abstract
This article is a theoretically guided and empirically based analysis of how populist movements invoke the notion of the ‘people’ as a cornerstone of their political mobilization. While the confrontation between the virtuous ‘people’ and the unresponsive elites speaks to how populism challenges [...] Read more.
This article is a theoretically guided and empirically based analysis of how populist movements invoke the notion of the ‘people’ as a cornerstone of their political mobilization. While the confrontation between the virtuous ‘people’ and the unresponsive elites speaks to how populism challenges established political actors and institutions, the actual meaning of who the ‘people’ are and what they represent is shifting and often driven by strategic considerations. Analytically the article investigates the distinct ways in which nationalism and populism conceptualize and politically mobilize the notion of the ‘people’. Empirically it focuses on the Italian League and engages in a discourse analysis of its political campaigns over the past 30 years. Based on this textual analysis of political campaigns, the article sheds light on how the reference to the ‘people’ has been employed as this political actor has transformed from a regionalist party advocating for autonomy in Northern Italy to one taking up the role of a populist-nationalist party at the national level. This case study allows the author to make a generalizable hypothesis about the nature of identity politics promoted by populist actors and the way in which the invocation of the ‘people’ and their alleged enemies is a pivotal political narrative that opens and restricts opportunities for political mobilization. This interpretative approach also allows for a more concise conceptual understanding of the affinity that right-wing populists demonstrate toward nativist ideologies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Resurgence of Populism: Tackling the Crisis of Liberal Democracy)
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Article
“We Are Peronists, We Are Organic”: Discipline, Authority, and Loyalty in Argentine Populism
Soc. Sci. 2021, 10(9), 326; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci10090326 - 30 Aug 2021
Viewed by 1339
Abstract
Since 1945, Argentine politics has been largely defined by Peronism, a populist movement established by General Juan Perón. While the ideology of Peronism has shifted and swerved over its seven-decade history, its central emphasis on loyalty has remained constant. This paper examines the [...] Read more.
Since 1945, Argentine politics has been largely defined by Peronism, a populist movement established by General Juan Perón. While the ideology of Peronism has shifted and swerved over its seven-decade history, its central emphasis on loyalty has remained constant. This paper examines the notion of “organicity” (organicidad), a Peronist conception of obedience, to elucidate how populist movements valorize discipline and loyalty in order to unify their ranks around sentiment and ritual in the absence of more stable programmatic positions. The original sense of “organicity”, as Perón developed it in his early writings, equated to strict military notions of discipline, obedience, and insubordination. In other words, Perón understood loyalty as an organic conception of discipline that consisted of both unyielding deference for the leader and unwavering commitment to the Peronist Movement. Yet, at particular moments in Argentine political history, Peronist militants either find organicity and loyalty to be intrinsically incompatible, or vocalize definitions of organicity that seem to question the top-down structure of the movement celebrated in Perón’s writings. As a result, among Peronists there is disagreement over what it means to behave organically and loyally. This article draws on extensive ethnographic fieldwork among Peronist militants to argue that populism’s authoritarian preoccupation with fealty attempts to obscure the internal contradictions that result from its lack of clear ideological commitments. However, an emphasis on loyalty cannot produce eternally harmonious uniformity. As Peronists come to view those holding alternate interpretations of their doctrine as heretical and traitorous, their accusations against their comrades reveal the intrinsic fragility of populist unity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Resurgence of Populism: Tackling the Crisis of Liberal Democracy)
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