Seminar: United States in Transition. Populism and the Threat of Autocracy

Monday, 11-13, weekly (starting April 25)
Campus Ulmenstraße, U69-H1-324

The United States has been undergoing a transition for over a decade, the result of accumulated chan-ges in diverse structures, accelerated by the structural crisis marked by the economic crisis of 2007-2009. Consensuses and stability broke down, and so did the dominant core that articulated the prece-dent historical juncture. Unmet demands stemming from a diversity of social sectors and flows of change undermined the stability of the political establishment and fractured its legitimacy.

Such a transition made unviable the continuity of the old political alignment and opened room for “outsiders” and new forms of conducting political affairs. It is within this framework that we should address the rise of candidates, successful or not, like Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. The emergence (or reemergence) of radical groups from both sides of the spectrum is largely the logical outcome of the loss of credibility suffered by traditional figures and institutions. Phenomena like political polarization, populist political speech, and the attempt of impeaching a sitting presi-dent are then expressions of the current development of the political system.

I propose an interpretation of this process as the political realignment that is integral part of historical transitions. At the moment, the future political alignment remains in the making, and the legitimacy of representative democracy remains under question. Different outcomes are possible, and the articulation of a set of conservative forces poses a real threat of the configuration of some sort of autocratic regime. In this seminar, we will discuss these political developments in the USA in historical perspective.

The event is open to all who are interested. Registration is not required.


Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Muno(host scientist)

Institut für Politik- und Verwaltungswissenschaften
Ulmenstraße 69, Raum 341
Tel.: 0381 498-4445


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