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Photo: “Prague – Vue du château depuis le Pont Charles et la Vltava“, by Bengt Nyman licensed under CC BY 2.0. Hue modified from the original

Guasti, Petra. “Populism in power and democracy: Democratic decay and resilience in the Czech Republic (2013–2020).” Politics and Governance 8, no. 4 (2020): 473-484.


Populism and technocracy reject vertical accountability and horizontal accountability. Populism and technocracy can combine to form ‘technocratic populism.’ The study assesses the extent to which democratic decay can be traced to the actions of technocratic populists as opposed to institutional factors, civil society, fragmentation and polarization. The main findings of this article are that technocratic populism has illiberal tendencies expressed best in its efforts at executive aggrandizement (cf. Bermeo, 2016). Without an effective bulwark against democratic erosion (cf. Bernhard, 2015), technocratic populism tends to undermine electoral competition (vertical accountability), judiciary independence, legislative oversight (horizontal accountability), and freedom of the press (diagonal accountability). The most effective checks on technocratic populist in power, this study finds, are the courts, free media, and civil society. This article highlights the mechanisms of democratic decay and democratic resilience beyond electoral politics. It indicates that a combination of institutional veto points and civil society agency is necessary to prevent democratic erosion (cf. Weyland, 2020). While active civil society can prevent democratic erosion, it cannot reverse it. Ultimately, the future of liberal democracy depends on the people’s willingness to defend it in the streets AND at the ballot box.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.