Are Populists Constitutionalists?

Research Seminars

An Empirical Assessment of Populist Constitutional Compliance

Conceptually populist governance conflicts with constitutionalism. As a political project, populism rejects constraints on “the will of the people”, often including those indispensable to any liberal-democratic constitution. Yet, the extent to which elected populists are willing and able to undermine a democracy's constitutional order is subject of controversy. The study presented in this Research Seminar is the first quantitative empirical study of the effect of elected populists on constitutional compliance. Employing novel indicators of both populism and constitutional compliance, the authors find that not only the presence of populists in government, but already the rise of populist parties in parliament erodes constitutional norms. The negative effects of populist governance seem to be mainly driven by populist movements with an economically left-of-center ideology.


ZEW – Leibniz-Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung



Institute address

ZEW – Leibniz-Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung


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L 7, 1, 68161 Mannheim
  • Room Luxemburg