Populist Speech and Representative Democracy

One of the striking features in the recent populist turn in different parts of the world is that countries with very different political histories and constitutional arrangements became vulnerable to populism. The paper suggests that there are patterns of thinking which characterise populism, and that those patterns are present in all recent examples of populist political speech. It argues that the main victim of populist ways of thinking and populist political speech is representation, and, specifically in the context of the constitutional architecture of liberal states, parliaments. Governance through parliament implies recognition of complexity and limitations. Populist rhetoric, irrespective of its ideological content, denies both complexity and limitations, extolling the virtues of the people as immediate decision-makers through mass politics. The “people” is,thus, presented as an omnipotent political actor which is beyond the limits imposed by the established constitutional order