The Populist Challenge to Élitist Democracy in Europe

Jack Hayward

in Elitism, Populism, and European Politics

Published in print March 1996 | ISBN: 9780198280354
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599422 | DOI:
 The Populist Challenge to Élitist Democracy in Europe

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The conflict between representative and direct democracy over which is the more authentic reflection of public opinion poses the tension between competing political leaders and a purported will of the people. The discredit of mediated party politics has led to increased recourse to referendums and to the emergence of social protest movements, notably extremists of left and right. The closed politics of the European Union, combined with the limited democratic legitimacy of its decision taking, have promoted a tendency towards demagogic unreality expressed through anti‐elitist populism.

Keywords: direct democracy; European Union; extremism; legitimacy; party politics; populism; public opinion; referendum; representative democracy; social movements

Chapter.  9162 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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