Democratic crisis and populist wave: is there a remedy? Fernando Casal Bertoa: "The solution to the rise of populism lies in the traditional parties"


On the fourth day of the FAES 2019 Summer Course, Fernando Casal Bertoa, professor at the University of Nottingham, said that "the solution to the rise of populism is in the traditional parties". "We need them to fulfil their programme, to be responsible and transparent, and strong in organisational terms," he said during a conference entitled 'Democratic crisis and populist wave - is there a remedy?

Democracy in question

"Essential dimensions of what is considered a quality democracy have been challenged by globalization, socio-economic inequality, the crisis of immigrants..."

"Political parties are the institutions that citizens trust the least, that they consider them corrupt, that they are not representing them, that they are not doing their duties"

"Political parties are in crisis as organizations as well. The voters don't want to be members of the parties, they don't identify with them.

New electoral behaviour

"People are no longer going to vote, they are looking for other expressions of participation. Elections, which are the main basis of democracy, are also in crisis"

"There is high electoral volatility and change in preferences. Polarization is not a trend, it's a pattern.

"Political parties no longer represent the voters, they are no longer representative utilities, but public utilities. What they do is represent the state, so voters look for alternatives that offer them answers.

"The economy is not as important in explaining voting to anti-establishment parties as social change and corruption"

Populism. Threat to democratic quality and alternatives

"Populist parties are a threat to democracy: empirical evidence shows that the increase in the number of votes for anti-establishment parties is accompanied by a reduction in the quality of democracy"

"It is the crisis of the traditional parties that has led to the rise of populism. Populist parties are not the disease, but the symptom, and could even become an opportunity”

"In the face of the rise of populism, we have three alternatives: banning populist parties, establishing 'sanitary cordons' or changing the diet of the traditional parties"

"The solution is in the traditional parties. We need parties that fulfil their program, that are responsible and transparent, and strong in organizational terms: the institutionalization of party organization leads parties to survive"

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