Populism and liberal democracy: three case studies

Vollgraaff, Werner (2018-12)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study used an exploratory case study design to examine the wave of populism that occurred in 2016. During 2016, numerous notable populist events in Liberal Democracies occurred. These include Rodrigo Duterte becoming the president of the Philippines; the Brexit vote in Britain and Donald Trump winning the presidency in the U.S. This series of populist events sparked a concern that internal failings within the Liberal Democratic system were the cause of the populism. Understanding the underlying causes of these incidents is of utmost importance considering that Liberal Democracy is globally the current dominant political system. The primary goal of this study is to uncover how and why populism has occurred in these Liberal Democracies, and more specifically, whether it is due to internal failings with the Liberal Democratic system. This study adopted and revised two theoretical frameworks to help examine the two points of interest in this study: populism and Liberal Democracy. The populist framework was dubbed the Fifth Approach; took inspiration from various sources and identified several key aspects that characterise populists. This study also adopted the two-strand approach to Liberal Democracy by Canovan. However, the two sides, redemptive and pragmatic, were revised to fit the two aspects of Liberal Democracy uncovered by this study’s theoretical overview, and four indicators were chosen to measure them: The support that Liberal values have in society, the support for Representative Democracy, citizens’ support for direct democracy and satisfaction with the status quo. Examining the three chosen case studies - Brexit, Donald Trump’s win and Rodrigo Duterte’s winning the Philippines’ presidency - revealed several key points of interest. Firstly, it seems that in Western Liberal Democracies, populism garners most of its support from the older white and less educated demographic. Secondly, when populists come into power, there seems to be a tendency towards authoritarianism. Thirdly, and most important, the populism which occurred in 2016 does not seem to be due to internal failings within Liberal Democracy. Examining the indicators, the researcher concluded that the Philippines and Britain had no gap in their Liberal Democracies. Furthermore, all case studies had varying significant factors that influenced their respective populist events. Only the U.S. case study showed any potential link between populism and failings within its system and was the only case study that evidenced a gap between the two sides of its Liberal Democracy. However, with that case study, there were also other significant external factors that influenced the outcome of the presidential election.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie het ’n verkennende gevallestudie ontwerp gebruik om die golf van populisme in 2016 te ondersoek. Gedurende 2016 het in Liberale Demokrasieë talle noemenswaardige populistiese gebeurtenisse plaasgevind. Dit sluit in Rodrigo Duterte wat die president van die Filippyne word, die Brexit stem in Brittanje en Donald Trump wat die presidentskap wen in die VSA. Die reeks van populistiese gebeurtenisse het kommer gewek dat interne mislukkings met die Liberale Demokratiese sisteem die oorsaak was van die populisme. Die kwessie oor of mislukkings in Liberale Demokrasie die oorsaak van populisme is, is van uiters belang aangesien Liberale Demokrasie huidig die globale dominante politieke stelsel is. Die hoof doel van die studie is om te ontbloot hoe en hoekom populisme in hierdie Liberale Demokrasieë plaasgevind het. Die studie het twee teoretiese raamwerke aangeneem en hersien om te help om die twee punte van belang, populisme en Liberale Demokrasie, te bestudeer. Die populistiese raamwerk was die Vyfde Benadering genoem en het van verskeie bronne inspirasie getrek en voorskryf verskeie sleutel aspekte wat populiste besit. Die studie het die twee string benadering na Liberale Demokrasie aangeneem en dit het meer spesifiek Canovan se twee kante van Liberale Demokrasie aangeneem. Verder, die twee kante, verlossing en pragmaties, was ‘n bietjie verander om te pas met die twee kante van Liberale Demokrasie wat die studie se teoretiese oorsig ontbloot het en vier aanwysers was gekies om hulle te meet: Die ondersteuning vir Liberale waardes in die samelewing, ondesteuning vir Verteenwoordigende Demokrasie, burgers se steun vir Direkte Demokrasie en tevredenheid met die status quo. Die ondersoek van die drie gevallestudies, Brexit, Donald Trump se oorwinning en Rodrigo Duterte wat die presidensie wen in die Filippyne, het verskeie sleutel punte van belang onthul. Eerstens dit lyk asof in Westerse Liberale Demokrasieë die meeste ondersteuning kan gevind word onder die ouer wit en minder opgevoede demografie. Tweedens dit lyk asof populiste ‘n neiging het na outoritarisme wanneer hulle in mag is. Derdens en mees belangrik dit lyk nie asof die populisme in 2016 asgevolg was van interne mislukke met Liberale Demokrasie nie. Met die vier aanwysers het die studie vasgestel dat die Filippyne en Brittanje geen gaping in hul Liberale Demokrasies gehad het nie. Verder, al die gevallestudies het verskillende betekenisvolle faktore gehad wat hul populistiese gebeure beïnvloed het. Net die VSA gevallestudie het enige potensiale verband tussen populisme en mislukkings met sy sisteem gewys en was die enigste gevallestudie wat ‘n gaping tussen die twee kante van sy Liberale Demokrasie gehad het. Egter, met daai gevallestudie was daar ook ander betekenisvolle eksterne faktore wat die presidensiële verkiesing beinvloed het.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/104898
This item appears in the following collections: