In the latest contribution to the Democracy Papers, Michael Zürn explores the roots of authoritarian populism. He argues that authoritarian populist politics is an expression of a new political cleavage: between cosmopolitans and communitarians. This cleavage emerged in the wake of post–World War II grand bargains to tame the class conflict and is a response to increasingly influential nonmajoritarian institutions with a cosmopolitan orientation.
Michael Zürn is director of the WZB Berlin Social Science Center and professor of international relations at the Freie Universität Berlin. He is a member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences as well as of the European Academy and was the founding rector of the Hertie School of Governance. His research examines governance beyond the nation state, and the legitimacy and authority of global governance institutions. He has—among other themes—most extensively written on the emergence and functioning of inter- and supranational institutions, as well as on the normative tensions and political conflicts that these developments unfold. His books include A Theory of Global Governance: Authority, Legitimacy, and Contestation (Oxford University Press, 2018), Protecting the Individual from International Authority: Human Rights in International Organizations (ed. with Monika Heupel; Cambridge University Press, 2017), and Historical Institutionalism and International Relations: Explaining Institutional Development in World Politics (ed. with Thomas Rixen and Lora Anne Viola; Oxford University Press, 2016). Relevant articles include “From Constitutional Rule to Loosely Coupled Spheres of Liquid Authority: A Reflexive Approach” (International Theory 2017) and “The Politicization of World Politics and Its Effects: Eight Propositions” (European Political Science Review 2014).