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Populism and Liberal Democracy: Populists in Government in Austria, Italy, Poland and Switzerland

Abstract

The enduring electoral success of populist parties across Europe and the increasing opportunities they have gained to access government in recent years bring once more into relief the question of whether populism and democracy are fully compatible. In this article we show how, despite playing different roles in government within very different political systems, and despite the numerous constraints placed upon them (for instance, EU membership, international law and domestic checks and balances), populist parties consistently pursued policies that clashed with fundamental tenets of liberal democracy. In particular, the idea that the power of the majority must be limited and restrained, the sanctity of individual rights and the principle of the division of powers have all come under threat in contemporary Europe. This has contributed to the continuing erosion of the liberal consensus, which has provided one of the fundamental foundations of the European project from its start.

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Daniele Albertazzi is Senior Lecturer in European Politics at the University of Birmingham. Contact email: d.albertazzi@bham.ac.uk. Sean Mueller is PhD candidate at the Centre for Swiss Politics, University of Kent. Contact email: s.mueller@kent.ac.uk.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

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Government and Opposition
  • ISSN: 0017-257X
  • EISSN: 1477-7053
  • URL: /core/journals/government-and-opposition
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