In this policy brief, Cas Mudde of the University of Georgia sets out a definition for populism and argues that, contrary to claims by the Tea Party and other populist movements around the world, populism is in fact theoretically opposed to constitutionalism. He reasons that, while populism is essentially democratic, by adopting a form of extreme majoritarianism, it is contrary to the limits placed on both popular sovereignty and majority rule that are integral to constitutional principles.
Mudde describes populists as taking an opportunistic approach toward constitutions, clinging to the constitutional protection of their minority rights, while rejecting those of other minorities on the basis of the democratic argument of majority rule.
The brief identifies flaws in the often vague and moralizing liberal attacks on populist movements, and instead makes recommendations that liberal democrats should emphasize the illiberal aspects of populism, while emphasizing the importance of liberal aspects of the political culture and system.
In this Policy Brief, Professor of French Government and Politics David S Bell analyses the French presidential election and the constitution of the French Fifth Republic. He charts the extraordinary fall from grace of Republican presidential candidate Francois Fillon, following the scandal known as 'Penelopegate', in which he allegedly paid his wife hundreds of thousands of euros of public money for little or no work.
One of the driving principles behind the contemporary populist vision of democracy is to no longer respect legal boundaries and constitutional constraints to the so-called ‘will of the people’.
Through analysis of the contemporary Italian political situation, this policy brief addresses a number of critical constitutional strains caused by populism, including:
American federalism is often lauded for promoting democratic participation and accountability, but this view neglects the ways in which it actually structures day-to-day political activity. Drawing on the concept of federalization of law and policy, this policy brief illustrates how lawmaking has proliferated across legal and legislative venues, particularly in the post-WWII period.
Populists challenge liberal constitutionalism by claiming to put the ordinary citizen in the centre of the political system, while reducing the powers of the ‘enemies of the people’. Sociologist Prof Paul Blokker argues that populists reduce democratic legitimacy, and asks: Why have populists found it so easy to radically change constitutional institutions and norms, and what can we do about it?