From Popular Dissatisfaction to Populism: Democracy, Constitutionalism, and Corruption

Yves Mény

in Governing Europe

Published in print March 2003 | ISBN: 9780199250158
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599439 | DOI:
 From Popular Dissatisfaction to Populism: Democracy, Constitutionalism, and Corruption

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The lack of confidence of citizens in their democratic institutions is not new, although the current context differs in various ways: first, the unchallenged supremacy of the two victorious paradigms of market and democracy; second, the weaker capacity of new or old democracies to deal with the new challenges they have to face; and third, the relative position of market and democracy, which has changed in favour of the market and to the detriment of democracy. The chapter first considers the nature of the democratic malaise and its manifestations; has it to do with the democratic principle itself or is it only a temporary dissatisfaction with elites, parties and political organizations? Two complementary explanations are then offered to interpret the birth and expansion of this phenomenon: the structural explanation emphasizes the tension between the constitutionalist and the popular dimension of contemporary democracies; the conjunctural explanation relates to political corruption, which became so pervasive in the 1990s and contributed to the delegitimation of representatives and of the principle of representation in many European countries, populism and populist dichotomy.

Keywords: constitutionalism; contemporary democracies; corruption; delegitimation; democracy; democratic malaise; democratic regimes; Europe; market; political corruption; popular dissatisfaction; populism; populist dichotomy; representation; structure

Chapter.  7603 words. 

Subjects: European Union

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