Populism and the Crisis of the Republic


Populism and the Crisis of the Republic

In this podcast, Professor Charles Tripp argues that populism is a form of collective politics that embodies distinct ideas, particularly those about popular sovereignty. Populism, he stresses, claims to communicate and respond directly to the political base – the people – by passing increasingly unpopular political elites and institutions. Three features characterize populism: (1) demagogic simplification; (2) anti-representative confrontation of below and above; and (3) assertion of a clear and uniform will of the people. The rise of populism is a symptom of a crisis of governance and particularly a crisis of the republic, which fails to fulfill its promises of citizen equality. From this perspective, populism becomes a technique for disguising deep inequalities of power.

Charles Tripp is Professor Emeritus of Politics with reference to the Middle East and North Africa at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, and is a Fellow of the British Academy. His PhD was from SOAS and examined Egyptian politics in the latter years of monarchy. At SOAS he had been head of the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies and is one of the co-founders of the Centre for Comparative Political Thought. His research has mainly focused on political developments in the Middle East and includes the nature of autocracy, war and the state, as well as Islamic political thought, the politics of resistance and the relationship between art and power. He is currently working on a study of the emergence of the public and the rethinking of republican ideals in North Africa.

This podcast, in CEMAT's Politics Now lecture series, was recorded as part of the roundtable on "Populism, Politics and Popularity - Reflections on the Politics of Today," organized by the Centre d'Études Maghrébines à Tunis (CEMAT) on February 6, 2020, at Le 15 in downtown Tunis.

Download the Podcast:  Feed  iTunes  / Podbean

Posted by: Hayet Lansari, Librarian, Outreach Coordinator, Content Curator (CEMA).


Suggested Readings


Bourdieu, Pierre. 1990. "The Uses of People," Chapter 10. In Pierre Bourdieu, In Other Words - Essays Towards a Reflexive Sociology, Matthew Adamson, Trad. Cambridge: Polity Press: 150-155.

Krämer, Benjamin. 2014. "Media Populism: A Conceptual Clarification and Some Theses on Its Effects." Communication Theory 24(1): 42-60. 

Laclau, Ernesto. 2015. "Populism: What's in a Name?" In David Howard, Ed. Ernesto Laclau: Post-Marxism, Populism, and Critique. New York: Routledge: 152-164.

Mouffe, Chantal. 2019. For a Left Populism. New York: Verso.

Özçetin, Burak. 2018. "'The Show of the People' Against Cultural Elites: Populism and Popular Culture in Turkey." European Journal of Cultural Studies 22(5-6): 1-16.

Patzelt, Werner J. 2018. "Populism–and How to Handle It." In Claudia Crawford, Boris Makarenko, and Nikolay Petrov, Eds. Populism as a Common Challenge. Konrad Adenauer Stiftung: 16-21.

Vatter, Miguel. 2012. "The Quarrel Between Populism and Republicanism: Machiavelli and the Antinomies of Plebeian Politics." Contemporary Political Theory 11: 242-263.