Transnational Populism, Democracy, and Representation: Pitfalls and Potentialities


  • Jonathan Kuyper
  • Benjamin Moffitt



Current work on populism stresses its relationship to nationalism. However, populists increasingly make claims to represent ‘the people’ across beyond national borders. This advent of ‘transnational populism’ has implications for work on cosmopolitan democracy and global justice. In this paper, we advance and substantiate three claims. First, we stress populism’s performative and claimmaking nature. Second, we argue that transnational populism is both theoretically possible and empirically evident in the contemporary global political landscape. Finally, we link these points to debates on democracy beyond the state. We argue that, due to the a) performative nature of populism, b) complex interdependencies of peoples, and c) need for populists to gain and maintain support, individuals in one state will potentially have their preferences, interests, and wants altered by transnational populists’ representative claims. We unpack what is normatively problematic in terms of democratic legitimacy about this and discuss institutional and non-institutional remedies.