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Will vs. Reason: The Populist and Technocratic Forms of Political Representation and Their Critique to Party Government

Will vs. Reason: The Populist and Technocratic Forms of Political Representation and Their Critique to Party Government

by Daniele Caramani, University of Zurich

The article compares analytically populism and technocracy as alternative forms of political representation to party government. It argues that populist and technocratic principles of representation challenge fundamental features of party democracy. The two alternative forms of representation are addressed theoretically from the perspective of political representation. First, the article identifies the commonalities between the two forms of representation: both populism and technocracy are based on a unitary, nonpluralist, unmediated, and unaccountable vision of society’s general interest. Second, it highlights their differences. Technocracy stresses responsibility and requires voters to entrust authority to experts who identify the general interest from rational speculation. Populism stresses responsiveness and requires voters to delegate authority to leaders who equate the general interest with a putative will of the people. While the populist form of representation has received considerable attention, the technocratic one has been neglected. The article presents a more complete picture of the analytical relationship between them.

Read the full article.

American Political Science Review / Volume 111 / Issue 1 / February 2017, pp. 54-67