The Specter Haunting Europe: Distinguishing Liberal Democracy’s Challengers

Issue Date October 2016
Volume 27
Issue 4
Page Numbers 22-36
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This article takes issue with the common practice of uncritically lumping together as “populist” the various and distinct challengers to democracy in contemporary Europe. It disaggregates and then classifies such challengers into three analytically distinct categories: antidemocrats, nativists, and populists. In so doing, the article reveals the geographical distribution of these categories across Europe, and highlights the value of treating each category based on its unique set of symptoms. It further shows that the gravest threat to contemporary liberalism comes from populist rather than from antidemocratic or nativist parties.

About the Author

Takis S. Pappas is the author of Populism and Crisis Politics in Greece (2014) and Populism and Liberal Democracy: A Comparative and Theoretical Analysis (2019), and the coeditor (with Hanspeter Kriesi) of European Populism in the Shadow of the Great Recession (2015).

View all work by Takis S. Pappas