POPULISM, AUTHORITARIANISM AND DEMOCRATIC BACKSLIDING
Dr. Sultan Tepe
Mondays and Wednesdays 9.30 am-10.45 am
Office Hours Mondays 11-12 PM or by appointment
According to reports such as 2020 Freedom in the World, political rights and freedoms have been on the decline over 15 years and we are in an age of democratic decline. What makes the recent wave of democratic backsliding different from previous ones is that it affects a variety of countries from long-standing democracies like the United States to consolidated authoritarian regimes like China and Russia, posing the questions of if, how and why countries with distinct histories experience such as a similar shift? In their quests to account for democracy’s retreat, many scholars turn to “populism” and declare it is the most critical political force that defines contemporary politics.
This course offers a critical review of the state of democracy and the rise of populism in world politics while asking if and how "populism" has become yet another overused term. After reviewing the term’s various uses and applications, the course will focus on equipping students with conceptual and analytical tools to detect and assess if and why political leaders and parties can be identified as populist and how populists expand or thwart their democracies? This course requires participation from students while offering a range of active learning opportunities. After a conceptual review of the term populism, the readings will focus on how different scholars measure populism. Understanding the rise of populist leaders and parties in pivotal countries of global politics will help students better assess whether and how the global decline of democracy is a short-term reactionary phase or a risk undermining liberal rights. The course will not only equip them with a new perspective on world politics from the window of populism but will also help them learn how to assess and apply a critical social science term and create an analytical report using it.
The course will consist of four parts: (i) a conceptual review of populism and its different accounts as a strategy, ideology and framework, (ii) different measurement of populist discourse and populist policies, (iii) an empirical analysis of populism by focusing on a wide range of countries including the U.S., Hungary, Mexico, Russia, India, Italy and Turkey and (iv) an assessment of the democratic implications of populism.