New book


Pippa Norris and Ronald Inglehart

New York: Cambridge University Press, Fall 2018  P/b $29.99 

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (November 30, 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1108444423
  • ISBN-13: 978-1108444422
Populist leaders.jpg

Authoritarian populists have disrupted politics in many societies, as exemplified by Donald Trump in the U.S. and Brexit in the UK. Authoritarian populist parties have gained votes and seats in many countries, and entered government in states as diverse as Austria, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and Switzerland.

Across Europe, their average share of the vote in parliamentary elections remains limited but it has more than doubled since the 1960s and their share of seats tripled.  Even small parties can still exert tremendous ‘blackmail’ pressure on governments and change the policy agenda, as demonstrated by UKIP’s role in catalyzing Brexit.

The danger is that populism undermines public confidence in the legitimacy of liberal democracy while authoritarianism actively corrodes its principles and practices.

This book sets out a general theory explaining polarization over the cultural cleavage dividing social liberals and social conservatives in the electorates and how these values translate into support for Authoritarian-Populist parties and leaders in the U.S. and Europe. The conclusion highlights the dangers to liberal democracy arising from these developments and what could be done to mitigate the risks.



Authoritarian-Populism is defined as a philosophy and style of governance which blends two sets of ideas.

Populists typically adopt a rhetorical language and governing style which challenges the authority of establishment elites. Legitimacy, in this view, flows from popular sovereignty and vox populi, over-riding minority rights,  constitutional checks-and-balances, and decision-making by elected representatives.   

Authoritarian parties and leaders adopt policy positions which endorse the values of tough security against threats from outsiders, xenophobic nationalism rather than cosmopolitanism, strict adherence to conventional moral norms, and intolerance of multiculturalism. This orientation prioritizes the values of tribal conformity, collective security, and loyalty to standard-bearers defending the group.

The danger is that populism undermines core institutions, while authoritarianism actively corrodes principles and practices at the heart of liberal democracy. This includes respect for norms of live-and-let-live fair play, constraints on partisanship, the protection of civil liberties, and the need for consensus-building; the importance of a bright line clearly separating personal and political interests; the active defense of fundamental freedoms and human rights; the value of tolerating diverse lifestyles, beliefs, and ideas; and the importance of cosmopolitanism, open borders, and multilateral cooperation.

It is worth emphasizing that not all populists are authoritarian, and not all authoritarians are populists, by any means. Populists may also challenge the establishment to advance a progressive agenda. But Authoritarian-Populist parties and leaders blend both these potent appeals.  The classification of European parties is here.


The electoral fortunes of Authoritarian-Populist parties, leaders and issues are open to multiple explanations which can be grouped into accounts focused on (1) the demand-side of public opinion, (2) the supply-side of party strategies, and (3) institutional arrangements governing the rules of the electoral game. Each component remains important for a comprehensive understanding of this phenomenon.

“Cultural Backlash”analyze the phenomenon of Authoritarian-Populism and its mass appeal as a style of governance which threatens the core principles and practices of liberal democracy.





Forthcoming, New York: Cambridge University Press, Fall 2018


Preface and acknowledgments

List of tables and figures

I: Introduction

1. Understanding populism

2. The cultural backlash theory

3. Varieties of populism

II: Comparative evidence

4. The backlash against the silent revolution

5. Economic grievances

6. Immigration

III: From values to votes

7. Classifying parties

8. Who votes for authoritarian-populists?

9. Party fortunes and electoral rules

         10. Trump's America

11. Brexit

IV: Conclusions

12. Eroding the civic culture?

13. The populist challenge  

Select bibliography

Endnotes and Technical Appendices