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date: 30 March 2020

Abstract and Keywords

In the former Soviet Union (FSU), sustained instances of populism are rare. The demand side does not represent an equally propitious “breeding ground” for populist backlash as in East Central Europe. However, the supply side is still more problematic, given the consolidation of authoritarian tendencies across the region. Without a minimal level of pluralism, it is extremely difficult to develop genuine and stable populist forces, except in (usually temporary) cases of regime breakdown or elite infighting. Anti-populist leaders (such as Vladimir Putin) have become the rule. Such leaders may employ populist rhetoric, but their fundamental impulse is elitist. They co-opt, mimic, or simply oppress social mobilization, making stability their watchword and regarding genuine populism as a dangerous threat to their rule.

Keywords: populism, anti-populism, left-wing populism, authoritarianism, pluralism, former Soviet Union, elitism, Vladimir Putin, Aleksei Naval’nyi

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