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The recent global wave of populist governments, which culminated in Donald Trump's victory in 2016, has convinced many observers that populism is a grave threat to democracy. In his new book, Kurt Weyland critiques recent scholarship for focusing too closely on cases where populist leaders have crushed democracy, and instead turns to the many cases where would populist-authoritarians have failed to overthrow democracy. Through a systematic comparative analysis of thirty populist chief executives in Latin America and Europe over the last four decades, Weyland reveals that populist leaders can only destroy democracy under special, restrictive conditions. Left-wing populists suffocate democracy only when benefitting from huge revenue windfalls, whereas right-wing populists must perform the heroic feat of resolving acute, severe crises. Because many populist chief executives do not face these propitious conditions, Weyland proves that despite populism's threat, democracy remains resilient.
Anna Grzymala-Busse - Michelle and Kevin Douglas Professor of International Studies, Stanford University
Frances Lee - Professor of Politics and Public Affairs, Princeton University
Kenneth M. Roberts - Richard J. Schwartz Professor of Government, Cornell University
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