This chapter continues the exploration of the first dimension of the ideal type. It analyzes the role of three central emotions in the populist’s psychological profile: fear, hate, and disgust. The relationship of disgust to authoritarianism is explored, an attitude which plays a major role in populist politics.
This chapter explores the second, ideological, dimension of the ideal type. It is argued that populists are ideologically flexible and, therefore, can adopt left-wing, as well as right-wing ideologies. However, these different ideologies express the same basic need: the voters’ need for protection (against the supposed or real competition of immigrants, against the effects of globalization, against a loss of purchasing power, etc.).
This chapter explores the third, institutional, dimension of the ideal type: how do populist and illiberal governments govern and what are their methods? Here are discussed: their tendency to simplify complex problems; their tendency to change things by quick and simple measures; their attacks on the pillars of liberal democracy (the judiciary, the press, and independent agencies); and, finally, their predilection for methods of direct democracy, such as referendums, popular initiatives, and primaries.
This chapter continues the exploration of the first, organizational, dimension of the ideal type; in this case the identity of the populist voter. He ir she is not necessarily poor, but rather someone who experiences economic and/or identity anxiety. The author analyzes also the reasons why the new rich support populist parties.
The question in this chapter is: does direct democracy lead to better government? The author analyzes the impact of referendums and popular initiatives in Britain, The Netherlands, California, and Switzerland. In the Netherlands and Britain, referendums have been hijacked by populists, while in California the adoption in 1978 of Proposition 13 has led to a blocked political system. In Switzerland direct democracy has become an instrument in the hands of the extreme right Swiss People’s Party to promote its xenophobic policies.
In this chapter the author discusses the function of independent agencies, which are an important target of the populists. These agencies are the judiciary, independent central banks, the media, and independent ethics watchdogs. By attacking these agencies, illiberal governments undermine the system of checks and balances, one of the pillars of liberal democracy. The author criticizes the concept of majoritarian democracy, defended by populists, and pleads for a “partnership democracy,” a concept elaborated by Ronald Dworkin.
In this chapter proposals are made to make public life more moral. These include politicians signing a “moral charter” and giving more power to independent ethics watchdogs. Because moralizing might not be enough, more structural proposals are also made, introducing term limits for office-holders, and ending the accumulation of political offices and politicians’ “revolving-door” practices by making specific jobs off-limits to former office holders.
In this chapter proposals are made for a humane and sustainable immigration policy. The author distinguishes four approaches: 1. the populist approach: closing the frontiers; 2. the assimilationist approach: putting pressure on immigrants to adopt the culture of their new homeland; 3. the multicultural approach, enabling immigrants to keep their own language and culture; and 4. the constitutional approach, expecting immigrants to adhere to the values and principles of liberal democracy. The author rejects the first three approaches and develops arguments for the fourth model. He further explores the question of the “absorption capacity” of the receiving countries and explains that good and factual government information can play an important role in reducing the anxiety of citizens, as research results from the USA, Britain, and the Netherlands confirm.
In this chapter a proposal is made to introduce more democratic procedures in civil society, outside the realm of politics. The author gives the example of Germany, which introduced in 1976 a system of “co-determination,” which requires companies of over 2,000 employees to have a supervisory board of directors, half of which comprises representatives of the personnel. For stock corporations of between 500 and 2,000 workers this representation is one-third. The Scandinavian countries have copied this system, which is interesting, because it gives more power to employees and enhances their feelings of self-esteem and dignity. German research has revealed that workers in companies with co-determination are less inclined to vote for populist parties than their colleagues in small companies without co-determination.
In this chapter the author explores “thin” and “thick” definitions of populism. He constructs an ideal type, along the lines of Max Weber, which gives more information on the phenomenon than a thin definition. This ideal type has three dimensions: 1. organizational (describing characteristics of the leaders and the voters); 2. ideological (what are their ideas?); and 3. institutional (how do they govern and what are their methods?). In this chapter the author explores the first, organizational, dimension. What are the characteristics of the populist leader (his or her charisma, authoritarianism, vulgarity)?