Populist Political Parties as Threats or Correctives for Liberal Democracy

Discussion of the global crisis of liberal democracy, which is often framed as an executive-led problem, is also quintessentially a political-party issue. On the negative view, threats to liberal democratic systems range across the activity of authoritarian populist parties in power, subverted mainstream parties such as the Republican Party in the USA or even the Conservative Party in the UK, and the rising electoral support for ‘challenger’ parties including Germany’s (AfD)or the Sweden Democrats. However, many view a positive flip-side in the ‘good’ populism of Spain’s Podemos party, Bernie Sanders in the USA, or even Sinn Féin in Ireland. This talk will discuss political parties as a useful subject to tease out the multiple meanings of populism, the distinctions to be drawn between populist and popular political projects, and the need for constitutional lawyers to develop greater understanding of, and analytical tools for, the political-party dimensions of this debate