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Two faces of populism

November 14th, 2018

A left-leaning political scientist argues that liberals who like to lambast populist politicians also use the people as a legitimation tool – at least in terms of the markets.

On Mandiner, Ervin Csizmadia contends that those same liberals who frequently lambast populist politicians also use the people to legitimize their claims. The left-wing political scientist maintains that a liberal ideology wants checks and balances on the unmediated popular will. He notes that liberal democrats criticize politicians including Prime Minister Orbán who use the people and the popular will to legitimize their policies. Despite their fears about the majoritarian interpretation of sovereignty, liberals also use the people to justify their political vision – but instead of referring to the people in the framework of political self-determination, liberals consider market choices as an indication of the people’s will. Csizmadia thinks that the two competing populisms follow the same logic. He believes the current political populist revolt is a clear indication that people are much less satisfied with their role as consumers than liberals hope, and they tend to claim popular sovereignty in order to control market forces.

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