Characteristics Of Populism

1795 Words8 Pages
From Mouffe’s and Laclau’s Marxist interpretation of populism, the communist regimes of the Cold War which had toppled down about a decade before they wrote their chapters, would probably be legitimate political systems. Those regimes were an extreme attempt to establish the rule of the “people”. Despite such populist features of communist regimes, Mouffe refuses to deal with populism other than right-wing populism, as discussed above. As a result, she would not give those communist regimes the negative label of populism. Likewise, Laclau would restrain from giving a negative label to those regimes, instead, he calls all forms of politics populistic (Laclau 2005, 47). Therefore, one might argue that the example of communist regimes points…show more content…
Moreover, populists are not necessarily to be located in a fixed part of the political spectrum.
In order to evaluate possible reactions to populism, this review will first argue whether populism is a threat to democracy. Secondly, estimations on the rise and endurance of populism will be introduced. From this, will, thirdly, be concluded how to best react to populism in favour of democracy.
Firstly, the authors are divided over the question whether populism is a threat to democracy. Populism weakens the liberal side of democracy as minority rights are hurt for the sake of mass-politics (Canovan 1999, 7; Mudde 2004, 562). In addition, populists diverge from democratic actors due to their anti-pluralist attitude. More precisely, populists discredit their opponents (Müller 2015, 85; 2014, 487 f). One might argue that democratic politicians also argue against their opponents, but they do not deny the very right to opposition. Therefore, it can be argued that populism is a threat to democracy. In contrast, Mouffe and Laclau argue that populism and democracy fit together, because addressing “the people” is not the problem, only excluding minorities is (Mouffe 2006, 69; Laclau 2005, 47). But a people or in-group is usually constructed as opposed to another group, for example a minority. Therefore,
…show more content…
Namely, in democracy, there is a struggle between the “redemptive” and the “pragmatic” side of democracy. More precisely, on the one hand, there is the idealistic wish for a direct rule of the people and there is the side interested in effective government via institutions. Those two sides of democracy need each other, but also stand in contrast to each other (Canovan 1999, 9 f, 16). From these contradictions and limitations in democracy producing unfulfilled requests of citizens derives populism (Taggart 2004, 276ff). For instance, there are groups of European citizens sharing the unfulfilled requests to abolish the democratic deficit of the European Union (Laclau 2005, 38, 44). Namely, the increasing authority of unselected institutions, in the European Union is been criticized (Müller 2014, 489-491). These unelected institutions have the connotation of an illegitimate elite (Taggart 2004, 269, 277). As a result, Euro sceptics cluster and are held together by their political motivation to change or leave the European Union. This Euroscepticism leads to and can be regarded as populism (Laclau 2005, 38, 44). Namely, Euro scepticists try to bring “back” the rule to the European “people”. Leading politicians make democracy vulnerable, when they say that there is no other way than the way they are taking in the European Union. More precisely, while
Open Document