We the People or We the Republic? The Need for Republican Populism

  • Óscar García Agustín


The government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero carried out remarkable political reforms inspired by republicanism. However, the progress in civil rights was not followed by an alternative political economic model since republicanism, in its social democratic form, did not attempt to challenge the neoliberal model. From its emergence, Podemos adopts a populist approach by mainly emphasizing the conflict between the people and the elite. When the party became part of the institutions, a political contradiction arose: If the vindication of the people as political subjects responds to the unsatisfactory functioning of institutions, how can institutions be transformed from within, and what role should the people play in this framework? This question is even more relevant since Podemos emphasizes the crisis of the institutional realm and the need to redo it.

The chapter addresses the relationship between two traditionally opposed political theories and their application in the Spanish context: populism and republicanism. The initial populist approach soon entered into dialogue with republicanism, as reflected in the republican critique of populism made by José Luis Villacañas in his work Populism and by Carlos Fernández Liria in In Defence of Populism. I propose that rather than abandoning populism in the name of republicanism, some principles for a republican populism can be extracted from Podemos’ political praxis: non-domination as a conflictual principle, controlling power (institutional and street arenas), common-wealth patriotism, and trimodal party organization.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Óscar García Agustín
    • 1
  1. 1.Aalborg UniversityAalborgDenmark

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