This lecture will explore the origins of the populist revolt against liberal democratic values, and its implications for domestic and international politics in the world today. Most political scientists believe that the stability of democracy is assured once a set of threshold conditions – prosperity, democratic legitimacy, the development of a robust civil society – is attained. Democracy, it is claimed, has then become consolidated, and will remain stable. During the 1990s in particular, theories of democratic consolidation argued that democratic, and in particular, liberal democratic beliefs and values would steadily consolidate their influence over established and emerging democracies.
However, just as liberal democracy can come to be “the only game in town” through processes of democratic deepening and the broad-based acceptance of democratic institutions, so too a process of deconsolidation take place when citizens sour on democratic institutions, become more open to illiberal alternatives, and start to vote for anti-system parties. Survey indicators show that in both established and emerging democracies, distrust of democratic institutions, skepticism of global governance, and anti-establishment semtiment have been rising for several decades, resulting a new political cleavage between "illiberal democracy," as represented by the new populist movements, and the "undemocratic liberalism" of established liberal parties and the international institutional order.
Roberto is Lecturer in Political Science in the Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne. He completed his Ph.D. at the Department of Government of Harvard University in 2016. His research interests centre on how institutions vary across the world, and why these patterns of variation prove so persistent and resistant to change over time. As a Principal Investigator of the World Values Surveys, he has published articles on quality of government, democratic transition, comparative social indicators, social trust, and patterns of global civil society, and conducted fieldwork in Central Asia, India, and Africa. He is also interested in political methodology, in particular global survey research, index construction and design, and geospatial analysis. His academic publications have appeared in journals such as Governance and the Journal of Democracy, and his non-academic publications in outlets including the New York Times, Vox, and the Financial Times.