Cover Osteuropa 1-2/2016

In Osteuropa 1-2/2016

What Does “Populism in Power” Mean?

Jan-Werner Müller

Deutsche Fassung


The widespread assumption that populists are unable to govern is wrong. Populists harbour a particular conception of politics. They are anti-pluralist and anti-elitist. Even in government, populists employ very specific techniques of rule. They style themselves as victims, suspect treason everywhere, and present their policies as action taken under a permanent state of siege. At the same time, they assert a moral claim to sole agency. Three aspects of this anti-pluralism as it is practiced in reality stand out: the usurpation of the entire state, the procurement of loyalty by mass clientelism, as well as the suppression of civil society and, if possible, the media.

(Osteuropa 1-2/2016, pp. 5–17)