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Populism and identity politics

Velasco, Andres ORCID: 0000-0003-0441-5062 (2020) Populism and identity politics. LSE Public Policy Review, 1 (1). ISSN 2633-4046

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Identification Number: 10.31389/lseppr.1


Over one-third of humanity lives under populist regimes—and many of those regimes are turning increasingly authoritarian. It is a worldwide challenge to liberal democracy. The conventional wisdom is that bad economics is to blame: the losers from globalization are angry and voting populists into office is their revenge. The policy implication is a kind of technocratic fantasy: fix the economy and populism will fade away. That view has weak empirical foundations, since many emerging countries that are clear winners from globalization have recently elected populists. In this essay I argue that we cannot understand the surge in populism without understanding the rise of identity politics around the world. Identity is the intermediate stopover in the two-way feedback between economics and politics. A focus on identity politics has important practical implications. One of them is that, to succeed in the fight against populism, democratic politicians have to learn to practice identity politics, but of the right kind. The challenge is to build national identities based not on nativism or xenophobia, but on liberal democratic values.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2020 CC-BY The Author(s)
Divisions: School of Public Policy
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Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General)
Date Deposited: 24 Jul 2020 14:03
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 03:07

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