Political Theory

Towards a Conceptualization of Populist Rights

Francisco Panizza The London School of Economics and Political Science
Is there a particular set of rights that can be regarded as “populist” in the same sense that we speak about liberal democratic rights and, if so, what are these rights and how do they relate to populism? There is a long list of arguments against any notion of populist rightsThe purpose of the paper is to discuss a theoretical framework for the conceptualisation of populist rights. In doing so, I argue that (democratic) populism can be associated to a notion of rights normatively centred in the exercise of sovereignty and empirically centred in the denunciation of asymmetries of power embedded in liberal democratic institutions. I conclude that populism’s antagonistic divide between the people and its Other presents significant challenges to notions of democratic populist rights that, in order to be truly democratic, would require the incorporation of some notion of citizenship to populism’s people – centred appeal.