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The two faces of populism: Between authoritarian and democratic populism

  • Bojan Bugaric

Abstract

Populism is Janus-faced; simultaneously facing different directions. 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 anti-establishment populism, which combines elements of liberal and democratic convictions. 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 populism.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Footnotes

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Bojan Bugaric is an Professor of Law; School of Law, University of Sheffield. This essay is related to, and parts of it are drawn from, a chapter The Populist Backlash Against Europe: Why Only Alternative Economic and Social Policies Can Stop the Rise of Populism in Europe (F. Bignami, ed., EU Law in Populist Times, Cambridge University Press, Forthcoming); and Central Europe’s Descent into Autocracy: A Constitutional Analysis of Authoritarian Populism, International Journal of Constitutional Law, 2019, forthcoming. I would like to thank Mark Tushnet for his comments on a draft of this essay. Email: b.bugaric@sheffield.ac.uk

Footnotes

References

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1 Jan-Werner Müller, What Is Populism? (2016); William Galston, Anti-Pluralism: The Populist Threat to Liberal Democracy (2018); Yascha Mounk, The People vs. Democracy: Why Our Freedom Is in Danger & How to Save It (2018).

2 Joseph Fishkin & William Fortbath, The Anti-Oligarchy Constitution, 94 Boston University Law Review 669 (2014). See also David Fontana, Unbundling Populism, 65 UCLA L. Rev. 1482 (2018); and Mark Tushnet, Varieties of Populism, in this issue.

3 G.John Ikenberry, The End of Liberal International Order, 94 (1) International Affairs 7 (2018); Edward Luce, The Retreat of Western Liberalism 13 (2017); Stefan Rummens, Populism as a Threat to Liberal Democracy, in The Oxford Handbook of Populism 568 (Cristobal Rovira Kaltwasser, Paul Taggart, Paulina Ochoa Espejo, Pierre Ostiguy eds., 2017); Jan Zielonka, Counter-Revolution: Liberal Europe in Retreat 2 (2018). Here, liberal democracy is understood as a political system marked not only by free and fair elections, but also by the rule of law, the separation of powers and the protection of basic freedoms. Andrew Heywood describes liberal democracy as a form of democratic rule “that balances the principle of limited government against the ideal of popular consent.” See Andrew Heywood, Politics 30 (2002).

4 John J. Judis, The Populist Explosion: How the Great Recession Transformed American and European Politcs (2016); Müller, supra note 1; Cas Mudde & Cristobal Rovira Kaltwasser, Populism: A Very Short Introduction (2017).

5 Robert Kuttner, Can Democracy Survive Global Capitalism? xx-xxii (2018). For a similar argument, in the context of the EU crises, see Matthias Goldmann, The Great Recurence: Karl Polanyi and the crises of the European Union, 23 European Law Journal 272 (2017); Michelle Everson & Christian Joerges, Reconfiguring the Politics-Law Relationship in the Integration Project through Conflicts-Law Constitutionalism, 18 European Law Journal 644 (2012).

6 Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation: The Political And Economic Origins of Our Time, 2nd ed. (2001).

7 Cas Mudde, Europe’s Populist Surge, 95 Foreign Affairs 25 (2016).

8 Adam Tooze, Balancing Act, Dissent (2018); distinguishing two current works, which deal with the political economy of populism: Kuttner, supra note 5; and Barry Eichengreen, The Populist Temptation: Economic Grievance And Political Reaction In The Modern Era (2018). See also Kim Lane Scheppele, The Opportunism of Populists and the Defense of Constitutional Liberalism, in this issue (arguing that populists are in essence authoritarians strategically using the label of populism in their quest for raw power).

9 Cas Mudde, The populist zeitgeist, 39 Government and Opposition 543 (2004).

10 Paul A. Taggart, Populism 4 (2000).

11 Margaret Canovan, Populism (1981); Noam Gidron & Bart Bonikowski, Varieties of Populism: Literature Review and Research Agenda, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University, Working Paper Series no.13-0004 (2013), available at: https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/gidron_bonikowski_populismlitreview_2013.pdf; Cas Mudde & Cristobal Rovira Kaltwasser, Populism, in The Oxford Handbook of Political Ideologies 495-498 (Michael Freeden & Marc Stears eds., 2013).

12 Anna Grzymala Busse, Global Populisms and Their Impact, 76 Slavic Review 3 (2017).

13 For an excellent overview of these theories see Gabor Halmai, Is There Such A Thing As ‘Populist Constitutionalism? The Case of Hungary, 11 Fudan Journal of the Humanities And Social Sciences 323 (2018); see also Gabor Halmai, Populism, Authoritarianism, and Constitutionalism, in this issue; contra, see Paul Blokker, Varieties of Populist Constitutionalism: The Transnational Dimension, in this issue.

14 Müller, supra note 1, at 20.

15 Aziz Z. Huq, The People Against the Constitution, 116 Mich. L. Rev. 1123 (2018).

16 Müller, supra note 1, at 44–48.

17 Id. at 11.

18 On diminshed democracy, see David Collier & Steven Levitsky, Democracy with Adjectives: Conceptual Innovation in Comparative Research, 49 World Politics 430–451 (1997), on competitive authoritarianism, see Steven Levitsky & Lucian A.Way, Competitive Authoritarianism: Hybrid Regimes After The Cold War (2010).

19 Grzegorz Ekiert, How to Deal with Poland and Hungary, 13 Social Europe Occasional Paper 2 (2017).

20 Bart Bonikowski, Ethno-nationalist populism and the mobilization of collective resentment, 68 the British Journal Of Sociology 189-190 (2017).

21 Id. at 190.

22 Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins, The Logic of Populism, 64 Dissent (2017); Marco D’Eramo, They, The People, 103 New Left Review 129 (2017).

23 Mark Tushnet, Comparing Right-Wing and Left-Wing Populism, in constitutional Democracy in Crisis? 639 (Mark A.Graber, Sanford Levinson, Mark Tushnet eds., 2018).

24 Lawrence Goodwyn, The Populist Moment: A Short History Of The Agrarian Revolt In America (1978).

25 Thomas Frank, Forget Trump – populism is the cure, not disease, The Guardian, May 23, 2018.

26 Dani Rodrik, In Defence of Economic Populism, Project Syndicate, Jan. 18, 2018.

27 Robert Howse, Populism and Its Enemies, 17 Int. J. of Const’l L. (2019), forthcoming.

28 Pippa Norris & Ronald Inglehart, Cultural Backlash: Trump, Brexit And Thr Rise Of Authoritarian Populism 12 (2019).

29 Revealed: One in Four Europeans Vote Populist, The Guardian, Nov. 20, 2018; Institute for Global Change, European Populism: Trends, Threats, and Future Prospects (2017); Jeremy Ashkenas & Gregor Aisch, European Populism in the Age of Donald Trump, The New York Times, Dec. 5, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/12/05/world/europe/populism-in-age-oftrump.html.

30 Samuel Moyn & David Priestland, Trump Isn’t A Threat to Our Democracy. Hysteria is, The New York Times, Aug. 11, 2017.

31 The European Union In Crisis (Desmond Dinan, Neil Nugent & William Paterson eds., 2017); James Kirchick, The End of Europe: Dictators, Demagogues, And the Coming Dark Age (2017).

32 Vivien Schmidt, Missing Topic In #EUref: Neo-Liberalism Gone Too Far, Social Europe, June 22, 2016, https://www.socialeurope.eu/missing-topic-euref-neo-liberalism-gone-far; see also Jürgen Habermas, “New” Perspectives for Europe, Social Europe, Oct. 22, 2018, https://www.socialeurope.eu/new-perspectives-for-europe.

33 Dani Rodrik, Populism and the Economics of Globalization, Journal Of International Business Policy 1 (2018).

34 Noam Gidron and Peter A. Hall, The Politics of Social Status: Economic and Cultural Roots of the Populist Right, 68 British Journal Of Sociology 57 (2017).

35 Ronald F. Inglehart & Pippa Norris, supra note 28.

36 Barry Eichengreen, supra note 8, at 163.; Jason Beckfield, European Integration and Income Inequality, 71 American Sociological Review 964 (2006); Jason Beckfield, Unequal Europe: How Regional Integration Reshaped the Welfare State and Reversed the Egalitarian Turn (2019).

37 Jan Zielonka, Counter-Revolution: Liberal Europe In Retreat 2 (2018).

38 Id., at 3.

39 Jeremy Ashkenas & Gregor Aisch, supra note 29.

40 Giacomo Benedetto & Simon Hix, The Rise and Fall of Social Democracy, 1918–2017, unpublished paper.

41 Sheri Berman, Politics, Pessimism, and Populism, Social Europe, Oct. 10, 2018; Sheri Berman, The Lost Left, 27 Journal of Democracy 69 (2016).

42 Kuttner, supra note 5.

43 Polanyi, supra note 6.

44 Mark Blyth, Global Trumpism: Why Trump’s Victory was 30 Years in the Making and Why It Won’t Stop Here, Foreign Affairs, Nov. 15, 2016, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2016-11-15/global-trumpism.

45 Chantal Mouffe, In Defence of Left-Wing Populism, The Conversation, April 29, 2016, http://theconversation.com/in-defence-of-left-wing-populism-55869; see also Chantal Mouffe, For A Left Populism (2018).

46 For a legal analysis of these issues, see Gráinne de Búrca, Is EU Supranational Governance a Challenge to Liberal Constitutionalism?, 85 U. Chi. L. Rev. 337 (2018).

47 Cristóbal Rowira Kaltwasser, The Response of Populism to Dahl’s Democratic Dilemmas, 62 Political Studies 470 (2014).

48 See Vivien Schmidt, Democracy and Legitimacy in the European Union Revisited: Input, Output and Throughput, 61 Poltical Studies 2 (2013).

49 Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union [hereinafter TSCG]. It was signed on March 2, 2012 and it entered into force on January 1, 2013, available at https://www.consilium.europa.eu/media/20399/st00tscg26_en12.pdf (not published in the OJEU). See Fintan O’Toole, Treaty Seeks to Outlaw One Side of the Debate, The Irish Times, March, 6, 2012, https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/treaty-seeks-to-outlaw-one-side-of-the-debate-1.476193.

50 In an important study, three economists from the IMF argue that austerity policies can do more harm than good. Jonathan D. Ostry, Prakash Loungani & Davide Furceri, Neoliberalism Oversold?, 53 Finance and Development 38 (2016); see also Paul de Grauwe & Yuemei Ji, The Legacy of Austerity in the Eurozone, CEPS Commentary, October 4, 2013.

51 Eichengreen, supra note 8, at 168-70. See also Barry Eichengreen, The Euro’s Narrow Path, Project Syndicate, September 11, 2017; Barry Eichengreen & Charles Wyplosz, Minimal Conditions for the Survival of the Euro, Vox, March 14, 2016, https://voxeu.org/article/minimal-conditions-survival-euro.

52 Eichengreen, supra note 9, at 169. An important precondition for such re-nationalization of fiscal policy is that banks be prevented from holding dangerous numbers of government bonds. However, for a critique of this argument, see Dani Rodrik, Does Europe Really Need Fiscal and Political Union, Project Syndicate, Dec. 11, 2017, https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/separating-private-and-public-finance-in-europe-by-dani-rodrik-2017-12. See also Peter Lindseth, The Democratic Disconnect, the Power-Legitimacy Nexus, and the Future of EU Governance, in EU Law in Populist Times (Francesca Bignami ed., 2019), forthcoming, endorsing renationalization of fiscal policy.

53 Vivien Schmidt, How Should Progressives Respond to the EU’s Many Crises and Challenges to Democracy?, The Progressive Post, April 3, 2017, https://progressivepost.eu/progressives-respond-eus-many-crises-challenges-democracy/.

54 Id.

55 The European Semester is a cycle of economic and fiscal policy coordination within the EU. It is part of the European Union’s economic governance framework. Its focus is on the six-month period from the beginning of each year, hence its name—the “semester.” During the European Semester, the Member States align their budgetary and economic policies with the objectives and rules agreed at the EU level. The legal basis for European Semester is the so-called Six Pack, European Parliament and Council Regulation No. 1175/2011. For a detailed analysis of the European Semester, see Philomila Tsoukala, Post-Crisis Economic and Social Policy: Some Thoughts on Structural Reforms 2.0., 2100 Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works (2019) https://scholarship.law.georgetown.edu/facpub/2100.

56 Vivien Schmidt, How Do Progressives Fight Back Against Populism, Social Europe, April 4, 2017, https://www.socialeurope.eu/author/vivien-schmidt.

57 Mark Dawson, New Governance and the Displacement of Social Europe: The case of the European Semester, 14 European Constitutional Law Review 196 (2018).

58 For this point, see Dawson, supra note 57; Francesco Costamagna, National Social Spaces as Adjustment Variables in the EMU: A Critical Legal Appraisal, 24 European Law Journal 163 (2018).

59 For a critical assessment of the Juncker Plan (European Fund for Strategic Investments), see Cornel Ban, Austerity Europe, Keynesian Europe: The Politics of Debt and Growth in Europe, unpublished manuscript (2017).

60 European Parliament and Council Regulation 2015/1017, On the European Fund for Strategic Investments, the European Investment Advisory Hub and the European Investment Project Portal and amending Regulations (EU) No 1291/2013 and (EU) No 1316/2013—the European Fund for Strategic Investments, 169 O.J. (2015) 1.

61 Ban, supra note 59.

62 Id.

63 Jeffry Frieden & Stefanie Walter, Understanding the Political Economy of the Eurozone Crisis, 20 Annual Review Of Political Science 371 (2017).

64 Id., at 386.

65 Michel Aglietta, The European Vortex, 75 New Left Review 15 (2012).

66 Alain Supiot, Possible Europes, 55 New Left Review 57 (2009).

67 In summer 2015, the EU imposed harsh loan terms on Greece even though they were previously rejected by popular referendum.

* Bojan Bugaric is an Professor of Law; School of Law, University of Sheffield. This essay is related to, and parts of it are drawn from, a chapter The Populist Backlash Against Europe: Why Only Alternative Economic and Social Policies Can Stop the Rise of Populism in Europe (F. Bignami, ed., EU Law in Populist Times, Cambridge University Press, Forthcoming); and Central Europe’s Descent into Autocracy: A Constitutional Analysis of Authoritarian Populism, International Journal of Constitutional Law, 2019, forthcoming. I would like to thank Mark Tushnet for his comments on a draft of this essay. Email:

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The two faces of populism: Between authoritarian and democratic populism

  • Bojan Bugaric

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