Why Populist Governments Maintain Power for a Long Time Span

The explanation to this phenomenon is due to the model of governance applied by populist governments. This model of governance encompasses four interconnected elements that, when they coincide, highlight a solid mass of voters voting for populists’ leaders. But what are the elements of the populist model of governance?

1. It requires the presence of a leader who has control over his party and who is determined to rule without a cartel, without considering the institutional order and constitutional legitimacy.

2. The separation of society from the populists into a moral “people” and corrupted “elites” is aimed at creating uninterrupted polarization, which, on the one hand, divides society and on the other hand does not force the center-right opposition to move to the extremes.

3. The immediate goal of the populist takeover is to bring the state under full control as soon as possible with simultaneous attacks on the pillars of the liberal democracy, such as the institution of justice, independent authorities, media and the Parliamentary opposition. We are taking about all the institutions whose role is to control state power.

4. The fourth element of populist governments is their discriminatory attitude towards friendly social or economic groups, and, at the same time, the marginalization of their ideological and political opponents.

The electoral defeat of the populists presupposes the formation of majority base in society that requires the rejection of the populist model of governance to restore a form of institutionally strong liberal democracy. 

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