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Levente Littvay on Contending with and Measuring Populism

“Populist attitudes have four dimensions, the three that were theoretically sound—people-centrism, anti-elitism, and a Manichean worldview—plus authoritarianism,” our Research Affiliate Levente Littvay said in an interview with

Populism “is a worldview wherein the pure people are in a Manichean struggle with a conspiring and conniving elite who exploit them. Given this, the connection between populism and conspiratorial thinking is almost definitional, but of course there is more to it. On the other hand, it is orthogonal, or unrelated, to ideology,” he argued.

“Maybe the conspiracies prevalent on the left are different from those on the right,” he continued, adding that “this, of course, makes objective measurement of conspiratorial thinking, which would allow us to disentangle their magnitudes on the left and the right, extremely difficult.”

“We believe that democratic hypocrisy is an important finding that will change the way we approach the strengthening of democratic institutions in backsliding democracies,” he concluded.

Read the full interview here.

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