This paper shifts the focus to the engagement between populism and democratic governance as an institutional account of how democracies function. Post-2008 anti-elitism as a social commitment translated to a robust anti-institutionalism in terms of state authority. The aim is not so much to provide definitions of either populism or democracy as to call attention to the features of democratic rule that have commanded attention for the era of democratic ascendancy over the past two centuries and that now seem subject to deep challenge. Without claiming apocalyptically that this era of democratic ascendency has come to a close, it is nonetheless worth examining how it operated to see the sources of contemporary disrepair. Here the suggestion is that there may be more inherent conflict with populism, turning not so much on the ultimate issue of an elected head of government but on the limits on the exercise of power.