Crises of Representation and Populist Challenges to Liberal Democracy

  • Kenneth M. RobertsEmail author
Original Article


In recent years, populist leaders, movements, and parties have posed formidable challenges to liberal democracy in Europe, Latin America, and the United States. These challenges are rooted in representational crises: in particular, party systems and their diminishing capacity to integrate and represent broad popular constituencies in the democratic arena. To understand these institutional failures, it is essential to explore the changing patterns of partisan competition and representation under the constraints of market globalization and the social fragmentation which it has produced. These constraints create openings for populist contenders to politicize economic insecurities and cultural resentments, in opposition to traditional political establishments.


Populism Democracy Crises of representation Popular sovereignty Social integration 


  1. Aldrich, John A. 2011. Why parties? A second look. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Art, David. 2011. Inside the radical right: The development of anti-immigrant parties in Western Europe. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Aslanidis, Paris. 2016. Populist social movements of the great recession. Mobilization: An International Quarterly 21 (3): 301–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bartolini, Stefano, and Peter Mair. 1990. Identity, competition, and electoral availability: The stabilisation of European electorates 1885–1985. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bornschier, Simon. 2010. Cleavage politics and the populist right: The new cultural conflict in Western Europe. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Dahl, Robert A. 1971. Polyarchy: Participation and opposition. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Dalton, Russell J., and Martin P. Wattenberg (eds.). 2000. Parties without partisans: Political change in advanced industrial democracies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. della Porta, Donatella, Joseba Fernandez, Hara Kouki, and Lorenzo Mosca. 2017. Movement parties against austerity. London: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  9. Downs, Anthony. 1957. An economic theory of democracy. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  10. Filc, Dani. 2015. Latin American inclusive and European exclusionary populism: Colonialism as an explanation. Journal of Political Ideologies 20 (3): 263–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fukuyama, Francis. 1989. The end of history? The National Interest 16: 3–18.Google Scholar
  12. Gidron, Noam, and Peter A. Hall. 2017. Populism as a problem of social integration. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Sept. 1, 2017.Google Scholar
  13. Hall, Peter A., and David Soskice (eds.). 2001. Varieties of capitalism: Institutional foundations of comparative advantage. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Katz, Richard S., and Peter Mair. 1995. Changing models of party organization and party democracy: The emergence of the cartel party. Party Politics 1 (1): 5–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kitschelt, Herbert, and Anthony J. McGann. 1995. The radical right in Western Europe: A comparative analysis. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  16. Kriesi, Hanspeter. 2008. Contexts of party mobilization. In West European politics in the age of globalization, ed. Hanspeter Kriesi, Edgar Grande, Romain Lachat, Martin Dolezal, Simon Bornschier, and Timotheos Frey, 23–52. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kriesi, Hanspeter, and Takis S. Pappas (eds.). 2015. European populism in the shadow of the great recession. Colchester: ECPR Press.Google Scholar
  18. Laclau, Ernesto. 2005. On populist reason. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  19. Lipset, Seymour Martin, and Stein Rokkan. 1967. Cleavage structures, party systems, and voter alignments: An introduction. In Party systems and voter alignments: Cross-national perspectives, ed. Seymour Martin Lipset and Stein Rokkan, 1–64. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  20. Mair, Peter. 2013. Ruling the void: The hollowing of western democracy. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  21. Mudde, Cas. 2007. Populist radical right parties in Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Mudde, Cas, and Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser. 2013. Exclusionary vs. inclusionary populism: Comparing the contemporary Europe and Latin America. Government and Opposition 48 (2): 147–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Ostiguy, Pierre. 2017. Populism: A socio-cultural approach. In The Oxford handbook of populism, ed. Paul Taggart, Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser, and Paulina Ochoa Espejo, 73–77. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Padoan, Enrico. 2016. A Latin Americanization of Southern Europe? A typology of antineoliberal turns in dualized societies. Paper presented at the conference of the European Consortium for Political Research, Trento, Italy, June 16–18.Google Scholar
  25. Putnam, Robert. 1994. Making democracy work: Civic traditions in modern Italy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Roberts, Kenneth M. 2014. Changing course in Latin America: Party systems in the neoliberal era. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Ross Schneider, Ben. 2013. Hierarchical capitalism in Latin America: Business, labor, and the challenges of equitable development. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Rueda, David, Erik Wibbels, and Melina Altamirano. 2015. The origins of dualism. In The politics of advanced capitalism, ed. Pablo Beramendi, Silja Häusermann, Herbert Kitschelt, and Hanspeter Kriesi. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Schmitter, Philippe C. 2001. Parties are not what they once were. In Political parties and democracy, ed. Larry Diamond and Richard Gunther, 67–89. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Schmitter, Philippe C. 2018. ‘Real-existing’ democracy and its discontents: Sources, conditions, causes, symptoms and prospects. Paper presented at the conference “The Crisis of Western Liberal Democracy?”, Fudan University, Shanghai, China, Oct. 27–28.Google Scholar
  31. Schmitter, Philippe C., and Terry Lynn Karl. 1991. What democracy is… and is not. Journal of Democracy 2 (3): 75–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Streeck, Wolfgang. 2013. Buying time: The delayed crisis of democratic capitalism. London: Verso.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Fudan University 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GovernmentCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

Personalised recommendations