PapersPolitics and DemocracyCentrist and Radical Populism in Central and Eastern Europe

Centrist and Radical Populism in Central and Eastern Europe

By Centre for Liberal Strategies

There is an emerging consensus that populism is a form of democratic illiberalism (Krastev 2006; Krastev 2007; Pappas 2014; Pappas 2016; Pappas2019; Mudde and Rovira Kaltwasser 2017; Mudde 2018; Mounk 2018; Gal‐ ston 2018; Smilova 2021). Populism combines a commitment to procedural democracy with a criticism of some substantive liberal values, such as pluralism, separation of powers, constitutional constraints, and minority rights. Populists challenge these values in the name of their vision of unre‐ strained ‘general will’ of a homogeneous people. The populists’ promise is that, unlike the established elites, they will ensure a direct and efficient transmission of the undiluted, genuine popular will in the public arena. By claiming that the political establishment has failed to represent the true interests of the people, populists position themselves as anti-corruption agents. The populist logic entails that the establishment parties betray the public good and thereby engage in inherently corrupt politics, and as a result, democracy becomes a government captured by private interests on behalf of a few.

Full text version (PDF)

Authors: Daniel Smilov, Director of the Rule of Law Program; Ruzha Smilova, Political Analysis Program Director, Centre for Liberal Strategies.

This article is available on the Centre for Liberal Strategies website.

Source: Prof. Dr. Reinhard Heinisch, Prof. Dr. Aneta Cekikj, Klaudia Koxha, MA (ed.), « Centrist and Radical Populism in Central and Eastern Europe », in Perspectives on Populism, Nomos, 2024.

Latest article

See more