Populism and the legislature

It is common for the meanings for some political terms to change from one country to another. As an example, ‘shirt‘, or ‘put it on the table’, means in the US Congress that an issue will be frozen. On the other hand, in the British Parliament it is understood that a matter will continue.

Even words like ‘populism‘ is understood differently. Several years ago, during a meeting between then-president Enrique Peña Nieto and Barack Obama, the former used the term pejoratively, while the latter declared himself populist. The reason: in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the so-called American populists were political movements that broke away from political parties, forcing them to include, among other things, direct democratic mechanisms such as plebiscites. , referendum and the revocation of the mandate.

Since we are dealing with the term ‘populism’, ‘detention’ in other countries is not the same as the efforts made by the opposition with the ruling party. To better understand the context, let’s have a look what happens to populism and legislatures in other countries.

Populism will be defined here as a political strategy in which a personalistic leader seeks to conquer or exercise public power on the basis of direct and indistinguishable support from a large number of disorganized followers. That is, attention is diverted from what is said to what is done. Under this premise, the city is a vast and amorphous aggregate; It is up to an extraordinary leader to organize and direct it to fulfill the goals he recognizes as “the will of the people.” Thus, the leader establishes a unifying relationship with the masses and in a relationship that is presented directly. The lack of so-called people organization is compensated by intense and polarized communication and mobilization, the goal of which is to create an enemy to defeat through the “hero” milestone. The goal: to have an electoral support base that allows a populist regime to stay in power. With the above assumptions, it is understandable that there is populism across the political spectrum.

As many as tear their clothes in the rudeness of kindness, populist regimes come to power thanks to lack of democracy, especially when they enter the friction phase. For example, it becomes easy to articulate an “anti-elite” movement in the face of party system failures such as political exclusion, organizational cartelization, poor performance, and program convergence with “vote-catching” institutions.

Although in all societies there is always a public who believes in a populist position, its emergence often raises the concerns of established political parties. On the other hand, populism has no problem with representation, as long as there is a set of supposedly correct representatives who represent the people they think are right to make correct judgments and, consequently, to do what they call right. So, in addition to determining who belongs to the people, these leaders need to define the content of what the people really want: for them there is only one common good that the people can see and gain, and that politicians or their organizational structure the government can implement as policy. firm.

If there is a “true” representation, then attacks on the legislature in liberal democracies focus on its inauthenticity. In this way, populists accept Carl Schmitt’s criticisms of parliamentarism, such as the rejection of parties as merely “class discussing”, fragmented, alien to the real interests of the people and incapable of making the decisions required by the public interest. To overcome these barriers and allow the leadership’s desire to provide the necessary solutions, this government is constantly resorting to plebiscite solutions, be it consultations, referendums, or the revocation of an inconvenient authority’s mandate.

Next week we will see what populism does in the legislature, both first as opposition and then in power, based on comparative experience.

Elena Eland

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