Beyond right and left: populism in Europe and Latin America

Publication date:
Susanne Gratius and Ángel Rivero

The literature maintains that not all populisms are equal. Some are seen as projects of regeneration or democratisation because they would incorporate an excluded people; others are movements that would weaken democracy by promoting exclusion (xenophobia and racism). The former is “left-wing populism” while the latter is “right-wing populism”. This paper shows that what is central to populism is its model of democracy, not whether it is situated on the right or the left. To do this, an evaluation is made of the democratic balance of populisms in three countries in Europe (Austria, France and Hungary) and three in Latin America (Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela). As will be shown, those of the right have no more contributed to the destruction of democracy than those on the left may be presented as democratising successes; but all represent a profound challenge to liberal democracy.

Keywords: populism, left wing, right wing, democracy, Europe, Latin America


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