Democratic Strain and Populist Fervor in India, America and Beyond

Manuscript in Preparation

By Sakeef M. Karim and Alessandro Giuseppe Drago


What is the relationship between democracy and populism? In the present article, we develop an explanation that highlights the role of democratic strain (i.e., the distance between formal and deep democracy) as well as democratic legacies in all corners of the modern world. To evaluate this explanation, we blend quantitative and qualitative approaches to macro-comparative research. Using sequence analysis, regression analysis, and a qualitative comparison of India and the United States, we find that sharp associations linking strain to populism are most salient in countries where formal and deep democracy were deeply institutionalized by the turn of the century. Yet, the populism expressed by political actors remains more prevalent (or normative) in countries marked by uneven spells of democracy and non-democracy in the latter half of the 20th century. As a whole, our findings lend credence to the idea that populism is endogenous to, or inseparable from, the promise of democratic governance.

Posted on:
May 2, 2024
1 minute read, 153 words
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