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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.

D. Albertazzi (2008), ‘Switzerland: Yet Another Populist Paradise’, in D. Albertazzi and D. McDonnell (eds), Twenty-First Century Populism: The Spectre of Western European Democracy (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan): 100118.

D. Albertazzi D. McDonnell (2010), ‘The Lega Nord Back in Government’, West European Politics, 33(6): 13181350.

D. Albertazzi D. McDonnell (2008) (eds), Twenty-First Century Populism: The Spectre of Western European Democracy (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan).

D. Albertazzi , D. McDonnell J. Newell (2011), Di lotta e di governo: The Lega Nord and Rifondazione Comunista in Office’, Party Politics, 17(4): 471487.

G. D'Amato D. Skenderovic (2009), ‘From Outsider to Playmakers: Radical Right-wing Populist Parties and Swiss Migration Policy’, in M.A. Niggli (ed.), Right-wing Extremism in Switzerland (Baden-Baden: Nomos Verlag): 7891.

T. Bale , S. van Kessel P. Taggart (2011), ‘Thrown Around with Abandon? Popular Understandings of Populism as Conveyed by the Print Media: A UK Case Study’, Acta Politica, 46(2): 111131.

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R. Heinisch (2008), ‘Austria: The Structure and Agency of Austrian Populism’, in D. Albertazzi and D. McDonnell (eds), Twenty-First Century Populism: The Spectre of Western European Democracy (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan): 6783.

M. Helbling (2009), ‘Citizenship, Right-wing Populism and the Direct Democratic Dilemma’, in M.A. Niggli (ed.), Right-wing Extremism in Switzerland (Baden-Baden: Nomos Verlag): 102112.

K. Jasiewicz (2008), ‘The New Populism in Poland: The Usual Suspects?’, Problems of Post-Communism, 55(3): 725.

P. Lucardie (2008), ‘The Netherlands: Populism versus Pillarization’, in D. Albertazzi and D. McDonnell (eds), Twenty-First Century Populism: The Spectre of Western European Democracy (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan): 151165.

K.R. Luther (2003), ‘The Self-Destruction of a Right-wing Populist Party? The Austrian Parliamentary Election of 2002’, West European Politics, 26(2): 136152.

K.R. Luther (2011), ‘Of Goals and Own Goals: A Case Study of Right-wing Populist Party Strategy for and during Incumbency’, Party Politics, 17(4): 453470.

D. McDonnell (2006), ‘A Weekend in Padania: Regionalist Populism and the Lega Nord’, Politics, 26(2): 126132.

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Y. Mény Y. Surel (2002) (eds), Democracies and the Populist Challenge (London: Palgrave Macmillan).

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C. Mudde (2007), Populist Radical Right Parties in Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).

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D. Skenderovic (2007), ‘Immigration and the Radical Right in Switzerland’, Patterns of Prejudice, 41(2): 155176.

A. Szczerbiak (2002), ‘Dealing with the Communist Past or the Politics of the Present? Lustration in Post-Communist Poland’, Europe-Asia Studies, 54(4): 553572.

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