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1 - The Populist Threat to Democracy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 January 2024

Kurt Weyland
Affiliation:
University of Texas, Austin
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Summary

This chapter highlights the global wave of populism and the intense fears about democracy’s fate to which it has given rise. I explain why indeed, populism inherently threatens liberal democracy. Then I summarize my main argument, namely that this danger is often averted; consequently, populism’s effective threat is much less severe than often feared. Instead, the analysis of a comprehensive set of populist experiences in Latin America and Europe shows that under many circumstances, democracy proves resilient to populism’s threat; populist leaders manage to suffocate democracy only under special, restrictive conditions. The chapter then defines the central terms, namely democracy, democracy’s destruction, and populism; for the latter, heavily contested concept, I employ my political-strategic definition, whose conceptual validity and analytical value I thoroughly explain. Finally, I justify the study’s focus on Latin America, Europe, and the USA and preview the subsequent chapters with brief summaries of the main arguments and findings.

Type
Chapter
Information
Democracy's Resilience to Populism's Threat
Countering Global Alarmism
, pp. 1 - 29
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2024

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