Populism, Pluralism, and Liberal Democracy

Issue Date January 2010
Volume 21
Issue 1
Page Numbers 81-92
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After a period of extraordinary advances in the final quarter of the twentieth century, the first decade of the new millennium saw the march of democracy around the world grind to a halt. A democratic “backlash” or “pushback” by nondemocratic regimes seemed to be in evidence, and some commentators spoke of the emergence of an “authoritarian capitalist” alternative to democracy. Yet the new focus on the resilience of authoritarianism may have led to a tendency to neglect or undervalue the resilience of democracy. If it is correct that liberal democracy requires the maintenance of a successful balance between majority rule and individual and minority rights, this balance can be disrupted in two different ways, by populism and radical pluralism. In liberal democracies, however, these two forces serve to counteract one another.

COMMENTARY: In “The Resilience of Democracy,Eduardo Posada-Carbó reflects on the 20th Anniversary of the Journal of Democracy.

About the Author

Marc F. Plattner is a member of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) Board of Directors. He was on the NED staff from 1984 until 2020, serving first as the director of the grants program. In 1989, he became founding coeditor (with Larry Diamond) of the Journal of Democracy. He later served as codirector of the International Forum for Democratic Studies and as NED’s vice-president for research and studies.

View all work by Marc F. Plattner