The responses of populism to Dahl’s democratic dilemmas

Rovira Kaltwasser, Cristobal (2013) The responses of populism to Dahl’s democratic dilemmas. Political Studies. ISSN 0032-3217

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Abstract

From Hugo Chávez in Venezuela to Geert Wilders in the Netherlands and Sarah Palin in the U.S., populist leaders claim to offer more power to ‘the people’. However, most scholars argue that populism is in fact a democratic pathology, because it seeks to build a political system devoid of the rule of law. While it is true that populism maintains an ambivalent relationship with liberal democracy, little attention has been paid to the legitimacy of the questions raised by populist forces. Drawing on the work of Robert Dahl, I argue that current manifestations of populism are offering specific responses to two dilemmas that do not have a clear democratic solution: the boundary problem (how to define the people?) and the limits of self-government (how to control the controllers?). My paper shows that populist forces are posing legitimate questions about the current state of democracy in Europe and the Americas, although their solutions may be more controversial than helpful.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Online first
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Politics
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory. The state. Theories of the state
J Political Science > JK Political institutions (United States)
J Political Science > JL Political institutions and public administration (Canada, Latin America, etc.)
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
Depositing User: Cristobal Rovira Kaltwasser
Date Deposited: 14 Mar 2013 08:38
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2017 14:12
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/41567

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