Populists in Power

Issue Date April 2019
Volume 30
Issue 2
Page Numbers 70-84
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Once in office, populist parties invariably establish an illiberal order that displays four characteristics: reliance on charismatic leadership; incessant political polarization; the colonization of the state by loyalists, accompanied by the undermining of liberal institutions; and the systematic use of state-sponsored patronage. Populists in power tend to display strong resilience as long as the above characteristics are in place. But if one or more of them cease to exist, a populist-run nation will follow one of the following pathways: 1) Populism entrenches itself and becomes systemic, inducing liberal parties to shift in a populist direction; 2) populism turns into outright autocracy; or 3) populism is defeated at the polls by liberal forces, which return to power.