Professor Natasha Ezrow
Department of Government
In 2014, there were 115 democratic states comprising approximately 65 percent of people in the world. Democracy, it seemed, had triumphed and secured its status as the world’s preferred form of governance.
Fast-forward to the year 2016 and a very different picture emerges. Although the number of democracies in the world remains at or near historic highs, already signs of democratic deterioration are evident. Much of this can be due to the rise of populist leadership and movements, and in particular right wing populism. While, some claim that the recent wave of populist electoral success is an example of the common man standing up to elites, populism by definition is at odds with liberal democracy. Populism erodes democracies, causing institutional decay, corruption and chaos.
What do populist leaders have in common with dictatorships? Is there such a thing as a populist dictator? And in what ways is Donald Trump’s behaviour similar to the populist dictator?