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  • Cited by 51
Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
August 2021
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Book description

Liberal democracy is at risk. Its hallmark institutions – political pluralism, separation of powers, and rule of law—are coming under pressure, as authoritarian sentiment is growing around the globe. While liberal-democratic backsliding features prominently in social science scholarship, especially the branches concerned with political parties and political behavior, public administration research lags behind. However, without considering illiberal approaches towards the executive, efforts of actual and aspiring authoritarians remain only partly understood. State bureaucracies are, after all, important instruments of power. This timely and important volume addresses the administrative implications of liberal-democratic backsliding. It studies public administrations as objects and subjects in the context of illiberal dynamics. For this purpose, the volume brings together an international group of scholars to analyze authoritarian tendencies in several countries. The contributions combine theoretical with empirical work, providing the first comparative perspective on an overlooked aspect of one of the most important contemporary political trends.


‘Populists, Democratic Backsliding and Public Administration is an impressive documentation of populist politicians worldwide and their anti-Democratic efforts that rely on politicizing the civil service.  Weaving historical cases with astute analysis of several contemporary national cases, the book clearly documents the perils of discounting or dismissing bureaucratic expertise. It is must reading for anyone interested in 21st century governance, the challenges to the administrative state, and the future of democracy.'

Kenneth J. Meier - Distinguished Scholar in Residence, American University

'In this ground-breaking volume linking the study of public administration to that of populism this volume not only move both areas onwards but comes into the real world issues of democracy, democratic backsliding, illiberalism and the practice of populism in power. Through comparative and authoritative cases studies at national, local and city government levels this volume essentially provides a road-map of what populists do in power and how they do it.'

Paul Taggart - Professor of Politics, University of Sussex

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