In the latest contribution to the Democracy Papers, Jan-Werner Müller argues that attention to right-wing populist movements gaining attention in Europe and the United States can both over- and underestimate their political importance and impact. For Müller, such movements are best understood not by their “anti-elitist” tendencies, but rather by their antipluralist claims to represent the “real people.” He also emphasizes how the rise of right-wing populism is inseparable from the degree to which they are enabled by more mainstream conservative parties, and refers to Austria as a counterexample in which the mainstream right rejected populist extremism.
Jan-Werner Müller is a professor of politics at Princeton University and a visiting fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences, Vienna. His book What Is Populism? (University of Pennsylvania Press) was published in 2016 and has been translated into 16 languages. He is currently working on a volume on democratic theory.