Newest Episode of Democracy in Question Podcast Features Nadia Urbinati

The newest episode of the Democracy in Question podcast, hosted by Central European University (CEU) President and Rector, Shalini Randeria, features Nadia Urbinati professor of political theory at Columbia University. Her field of expertise is modern and contemporary political thought, and she has published extensively on both democratic as well as anti-democratic political traditions. And she is the author of numerous award-winning books, including Representative Democracy: Principles and GenealogyDemocracy Disfigured: Opinion, Truth, and the People, and most recently, Me the People: How Populism Transforms Democracy, which is the main topic of today's podcast.

Populism has become a ubiquitous and hotly debated concept in academic and public discourse of late. The discussion will begin by clearing up some misconceptions regarding populism and address some fundamental dilemmas we face due to its resurgence. As Nadia reminds us in many of her writings, populist politics comes in many forms that depend on local political traditions and socio-historical context. In Me the People, she delineates some common defining traits of the many varieties of populism, including the central role of a leader claiming to embody without any institutional mediation a silent, disgruntled majority.

In this episode "Resurgence of Populism, its History, and its Various Forms" published October 12, Shalini and her guest discuss whether the potential for populism is inherent in democracy itself, especially when conceived in terms of a dialectic between majority and minority, accompanied by a suspicion of elites. They also debated whether progressive political forces should resort to populist tactics and rhetoric in order to win back the masses from far-right demagogues, or whether this would inevitably pose a risk to democratic ideals of pluralism and universalism. Another talking point was whether populism is still compatible with democracy by continually testing its limits and what distinguishes populist politics from post-fascist rule?

For each episode of Democracy in Question, Randeria invites a leading scholar or public figure to explore the challenges and dilemmas facing democracies around the world. Listen to the trailer and subscribe here.

Series five of Democracy in Question is produced in partnership with the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy at the Graduate Institute in Geneva (AHCD) where Randeria is a Senior Fellow. ACHD and the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM) in Vienna co-produced seasons one and two of the podcast.