Download PDF by Yves Mény, Yves Surel (eds.): Democracies and the Populist Challenge

By Yves Mény, Yves Surel (eds.)

ISBN-10: 1349429112

ISBN-13: 9781349429110

ISBN-10: 1403920079

ISBN-13: 9781403920072

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Additional info for Democracies and the Populist Challenge

Sample text

As democracy becomes more inclusive, the need for a simple and vivid ideological map of the political maze becomes even more pressing. But the ideology of democracy, continually reaffirmed by politicians and the mass media, is full of populist themes that belie the current trend of democratic politics, stressing sovereignty and the exercise of the general will against compromise and accommodation, popular unity against multiplicity, majority against minorities, and directness and transparency against complex and intricate procedures.

While these are all significant objections, they do not constitute insuperable barriers to my present undertaking. Whilst Freeden himself does not discuss populism (or democracy) as an ideology, aspects of his analysis of other ideologies are significant. On the first point, that of lack of intellectual substance, Freeden makes a pertinent distinction between ‘full’ ideologies (such as liberalism or socialism) which provide a comprehensive map of virtually the entire political world, and ‘thin-centred’ ideologies ‘with a restricted core attached to a narrower range of political concepts’ (Freeden 1998, 750).

The ideology of ‘government by the people’ and ‘majority rule’ survives unimpaired by philosophical refutations and retains the power to bestow or withhold political legitimacy. For an ideology’s core concepts are not just decontested and defended against philosophical debate, but are also charged with sanctifying force. Ideology infuses humdrum political arrangements with faith in redemption through politics, putting beyond question not only the meaning of popular sovereignty, but also its virtue and saving power.

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Democracies and the Populist Challenge by Yves Mény, Yves Surel (eds.)


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