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What is populism? Who is the populist?

A state of the field review (2008-2018)

Jean-Paul Gagnon, Emily Beausoleil, Kyong-Min Son, Cleve Arguelles, Pierrick Chalaye, and Callum N. Johnston

Both “populism” and “populist” have long been considered ill-defined terms, and therefore are regularly misapplied in both scholarly and popular discourses.1 This definitional difficulty is exacerbated by the Babelian confusion of voices on populism, where the term’s meaning differs within and between global regions (e.g. Latin America versus Western Europe); time periods (e.g. 1930s versus the present), and classifications (e.g. left/ right, authoritarian/libertarian, pluralist/antipluralist, as well as strains that muddy these distinctions such as homonationalism, xenophobic feminism and multicultural neonationalism). While useful efforts have been made to navigate the vast and heterogeneous conceptual terrain of populism,2 they rarely engage with each other. The result is a dizzying proliferation of different definitions unaccompanied by an understanding as to how they might speak to each other. And this conceptual fragmentation reinforces, and is reinforced by, diverging assessments of populism which tend to cast it as either “good” or “bad” for democracy (e.g. Dzur and Hendriks 2018; Müller 2015).

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Democratic Procedures Are Not Inherently Democratic

A Critical Analysis of John Keane's The New Despotism (Harvard University Press, 2020)

Gergana Dimova

theory (in the way Keane implicitly draws on a novel conception of human nature). This review article seeks to elucidate the pillars of Keane's concept of the new despotism, and to situate it in the broader scholarship of democracy and authoritarianism

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Jean-Paul Gagnon and George Vasilev

action to address the very deficiencies crippling existing democratic practice. In today’s world, such deficiencies include citizen disengagement, de-democratization and regression toward authoritarianism, far right populism, accountability deficits among

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The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Central and Eastern Europe

The Rise of Autocracy and Democratic Resilience

Petra Guasti

transparency and perform oversight. Active civil society can mobilize to hold governments accountable. With this backdrop, this article looks at how the COVID-19 pandemic is fostering the rise of authoritarianism in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). Four

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Takamichi Sakurai

of authoritarian political regime’ ( Bach 2006: 192 ). The eminent theorist of fascism Roger Griffin further defines fascism as a ‘revolutionary form of ultra-nationalism that attempts to realize the myth of the regenerated nation’ (2012: 1). On the

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A comforting notion in much recent scholarly work on political regimes is that what, broadly, has come to be termed liberal democracy reflects the normative ‘telos’ of the modern world’s developmental trajectory. Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History and the Last Man stands as an almost iconic, if perhaps somewhat coarsely crafted, statement of this view. Przeworski, Alvarez, Cheibub and Limongi have, in Democracy and Development: Political Institutions and Well-Being in the World, 1950-1990, presented a nuanced, empirically well grounded case for the general relative superiority of liberal democracy as a political framework for richer economies, and as a framework that societies will tend to adopt, with fewer dangers of regression, as they become wealthier. Even the economies of poorer countries—contrary to some earlier views—appear to grow and prosper no better under authoritarian regimes than they do under liberal democratic dispensations, not least with regard to the efficiency of resource allocation. Amartya Sen’s Development as Freedom bears eloquent testimony to the wider social, political and ethical virtues of liberal democracy. After all, liberal democracies promise greater individual freedoms, better protection of rights, and better mechanisms for public policy formation and assessment than do authoritarian or ‘totalitarian’ forms of state. They also do not go to war against one another.

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Lauri Rapeli and Inga Saikkonen

end of the Cold War and most formerly autocratic states adopted (at least de jure ) democratic institutions. Some of these new democracies have consolidated, but others have reverted to more authoritarian types of government. These autocratizing

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Latin America and COVID-19

Political Rights and Presidential Leadership to the Test

Brigitte Weiffen

their history of strong authoritarian leaders. After the demise of military dictatorships, Latin America continued to see democratic regimes in which presidents did their utmost to ensure that their powers remained unchecked by parliaments, courts, or

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Who Governs in Deep Crises?

The Case of Germany

Wolfgang Merkel

acceptance of restrictions on basic rights and existential economic losses exhibits subtle features of the “authoritarian personality” as described by Erich Fromm and later Theodor W. Adorno et al. (1950) for Germany, the US, and beyond. For at least two

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Democracy in a Global Emergency

Five Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic

Afsoun Afsahi, Emily Beausoleil, Rikki Dean, Selen A. Ercan, and Jean-Paul Gagnon

governance have received little attention beyond a simplistic narrative of democratic erosion and authoritarian drift. Is COVID-19 an emergency for democracy, globally? And, what lessons does the pandemic hold for doing democratic governance in an emergency