Exchange: How to Tell Nativists from Populists

Issue Date January 2018
Volume 29
Issue 1
Page Numbers 148-52
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Ben Margulies’ critique centers on the question of whether antidemocrats and nativists constitute political phenomena that can be meaningfully distinguished from populism, with the latter understood as equivalent to democratic illiberalism. In fact, we can demarcate a class of clearly antidemocratic parties using authoritative sources—namely, courts of law in various countries that have decided cases against certain parties on the basis of actual political deeds. The distinction between populists and nativists is somewhat more complicated, and hinges on the two groups’ contrasting relations with liberalism. Unlike Margulies, I define this concept in terms of acceptance of and approaches toward the cross-cutting cleavages of modern society, as well as a commitment to the rule of law and minority rights. Empirically, we can identify nativist parties by focusing on ten specific conditions, including a negative stance on immigration, right-wing policy positions, a programmatic orientation, weak or collective leadership, and a rejection of the division made by populists between “the people” and an elite.

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