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Democracy Erodes from the Top

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In this seminar, Larry Bartels dismantles the pervasive myth of a "populist wave" in contemporary European public opinion. He shows that attitudes regarding immigration, European integration, trust in politicians, and satisfaction with democracy have remained largely unchanged over the past two decades. Electoral gains by right-wing populist parties have mostly reflected idiosyncratic failures of mainstream parties; both their magnitude and their implications have been exaggerated by the press. Europe's most sobering examples of democratic backsliding--in Hungary and Poland--occurred not because voters wanted authoritarianism but because conventional conservative parties, once elected, seized opportunities to entrench themselves in power.


Larry Bartels' research and teaching focus on public opinion, electoral politics, public policy, and democracy. His books include Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age (2nd edition) and (with Christopher Achen) Democracy for Realists: Why Elections Do Not Produce Responsive Government. He has also published dozens of scholarly articles and brief pieces in the New York Times, Washington Post, Salon, and other popular media outlets. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Academy of Political and Social Science, and the American Philosophical Society.

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