How not to respond to populism

Anthoula Malkopoulou, Benjamin Moffitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although the nature and definition of populism are a source of considerable disagreement, there seems to be a minimal consensus by now that populism poses a number of threats to liberal democracy, and that public authorities should therefore act in defence of the latter. In searching for appropriate responses, however, most scholars draw from strategies for combatting anti-democratic or extremist parties, without considering the important differences between populist parties and these other political actors. We argue that the two central types of democratic defence—the ‘intolerant’ militant democratic defence and the ‘tolerant’ defence—do not offer satisfying responses to populist parties precisely because they were conceived and developed as responses to different phenomena. For public authorities to successfully address populism, responses need to contain its most egregious characteristics, yet salvage its productive side.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)848-865
JournalComparative European Politics
Issue number6
Early online date2023 Mar 10
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Political Science

Free keywords

  • populism
  • democratic defence
  • militant democracy


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