ISBN: 978-1-00-943246-7

Amanda B Edgell

University of Alabama

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This book is a thought-provoking and nuanced reexamination of the threat populist politicians pose to democracy. It should be of great interest to scholars and policy practitioners alike. Drawing on an impressive number of case studies from Latin America, Europe, and beyond, Weyland counters prevailing pessimistic narratives to provide a refreshing account of populism's limits. Weyland argues that populism poses less of a threat to democracy than we may think. His theory emphasizes the importance of prior institutional weaknesses and conjectural opportunities as necessary conditions for populists to succeed in their drive to undermine democracy and consolidate power. However, even these conditions are insufficient, as the analysis reveals multiple ways populists may fail to capitalize on opportunities. The rich case studies that comprise most of the book will be valuable for researchers interested in learning more about specific cases and the processes unfolding as populist leaders attempt to undermine democracy. The careful attention given to conceptualization will also be of benefit to scholars grappling with the slippery notion of what populism means in practice. Importantly, the book is a cautionary reminder for the broader scholarly community that selection on the dependent variable may produce biased interpretations. While prominent cases of populist takeovers like India, Hungary, and Turkey attract considerable scholarly attention due to their importance, Weyland demonstrates how addressing lesser-known and failed cases is equally important for understanding the true threat of populism.