Populism and the Broken Promises of Democracy: Towards a Partyless Democracy?

Thursday, 19 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Lorenzo VIVIANI, University of Pisa, Italy
The paper discusses the relationship between the crisis of representative democracy and the perspective of populist democracy in Europe. Starting from the two sides of democracy, a procedural and an ideal type, it analyzes the emergence of populism as a politicization of a feeling of mistrust that emerges in reference to the broken promises of democracy. Populism as a thin-centered ideology is characterized by the appeal to the people and opposition to the ruling élite, nevertheless the paper underscores that the people of populists is an imagined community, a social construction manipulated by new anti-establishment political leaders and parties. The restructuring of political spaces should be observed as the restructuring of the forms and actors of political representation, neither as the end of political parties in democracy or as the end of representative democracy itself. In conclusion we consider populism as a phenomenon compatible with democracy, while stressing that it is a challenge to the mainstream actors of liberal-democracy but not an anti-system opposition to democratic institutions.