On Monday, May 24, I took part in a discussion hosted by BU’s Center for the Study of Europe with Bojan Bugaric, Professor of Law at Sheffield University and Associate Fellow, SPERI (Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute, and Mark Tushnet, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law, Emeritus, at Harvard Law School. Bugaric and Tushnet were presenting their forthcoming book from Oxford University Press: Power to the People: Constitutionalism in an Age of Populism. I was joined by Robert L. Tsai, Professor of Law at Boston University, who also offered comments.
Bugaric and Tushnet’s book challenges the notion that populism is ipso facto incompatible with modern liberal democracy. While acknowledging that some variants of populism are indeed incompatible with constitutionalism, they argue that the tension between populism and constitutionalism is narrower than much of the commentary suggests. Their analysis of populism in a variety of contexts reveals there are many populisms, and further, that sometimes populism helps to revivify democracy rather than undermine it.