University of Cambridge > > Political Thought Postdoctoral Forum > Chris Bickerton, "Populism or Technocracy: Opposites or Complements?"

Chris Bickerton, "Populism or Technocracy: Opposites or Complements?"

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Although populism and technocracy increasingly appear as the two organ- ising poles of politics in contemporary Western democracies, the exact nature of their relationship has not been the focus of systematic attention. This arti- cle argues that whilst these two terms – and the political realities they refer to – are usually assumed to be irreducibly opposed to one another, there is also an important element of complementarity between them. This complementar- ity consists in the fact that both populism and technocracy are predicated upon an implicit critique of a specific political form, referred to in this article as ‘party democracy’. This is defined as a political regime based on two key features: the mediation of political conflicts through the institution of politi- cal parties and a procedural conception of political legitimacy according to which political outcomes are legitimate to the extent that they are the product of a set of democratic procedures revolving around the principles of parlia- mentary deliberation and electoral competition. This argument is made through a close analysis of works by Ernesto Laclau and Pierre Rosanvallon, chosen as exemplary manifestations of the contemporary cases for populism and technocracy, respectively.

This talk is part of the Political Thought Postdoctoral Forum series.

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