It turned out that new populism is the general condition of the political today and it becomes an integral part of the world-wide advance of democracy. Its essential feature is that diverse and opposing groups in society identify the structural conflict in the modern politics not as one between the left and the right – or any other competing world visions – but between “the people” and “the elite”, both perceived as homogeneous entities.
The gap between the people and the elites is perceived wider than ever. Politicians from all parties have become similar in sociological terms. The media has changed its character: as a result of its growing independence and commercialization it has become more and more sensationalistic and an instrument for de-legitimizing the elites. The decline of the nation state and state-centered nationalistic ideologies were one more factor for the crisis of the legitimacy of the democratic elites. The corruption-centered discourse on politics is the powerful manifestation of the changing nature of modern politics.
The question raised by the CLS was how to understand this new populist condition: whether the rise of the new populism is a danger for democracy or it is an opportunity for the return of a genuine political discourse.
The purpose of the conference organized by the Centre for Liberal Strategies and Open Society Institute- Sofia was to bring together leading academics, politicians and civic activists to discuss problems and challenges related to the new populism.
Period: January 2006 - May 2006
Coordinators: Ivan Krastev
Financing Organisations: Balkan Trust for Democracy; Charles Stewart Mott Foundation; Foundation Robert Schumann; Robert Bosch Stiftung
Partners: Open Society Institute, Sofia