Ben Margulies’ critique centers on the question of whether antidemocrats and nativists constitute political phenomena that can be meaningfully distinguished from populism, with the latter understood as equivalent to democratic illiberalism. In fact, we can demarcate a class of clearly antidemocratic parties using authoritative sources—namely, courts of law in various countries that have decided cases against certain parties on the basis of actual political deeds. The distinction between populists and nativists is somewhat more complicated, and hinges on the two groups’ contrasting relations with liberalism. Unlike Margulies, I define this concept in terms of acceptance of and approaches toward the cross-cutting cleavages of modern society, as well as a commitment to the rule of law and minority rights. Empirically, we can identify nativist parties by focusing on ten specific conditions, including a negative stance on immigration, right-wing policy positions, a programmatic orientation, weak or collective leadership, and a rejection of the division made by populists between “the people” and an elite.
Exchange: How to Tell Nativists from Populists
Issue Date January 2018
Page Numbers 148-52