Jan-Werner Müller

    is a German political scientist, a fellow at the Institute of Human Sciences in Vienna and since 2005 a professor at the Politics Department, Princeton University. He studied at the Free University, Berlin, University College, London, St. Antony’s College, Oxford, and Princeton. From 1996 until 2003 he was a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford; from 2003 until 2005 he was Fellow in Modern European Thought at the European Studies Centre, St. Antony’s College, and he has taught at universities around the world. He is the editor of Memory and Power in Post-War Europe: Studies in the Presence of the Past and German Ideologies since 1945: Studies in the Political Thought and Culture of the Bonn Republic (Palgrave 2003). His books include Contesting Democracy: Political Ideas in Twentieth-Century Europe; Another Country: German Intellectuals, Unification and National Identity and  Constitutional Patriotism; his most recent book What is Populism? was published in September 2016. “It is often misleadingly suggested that there are growing numbers of populist, or ‘anti-establishment,’ voters on both sides of this conflict, and hence they must share crucial political or moral characteristics. But only one side denies the pluralism of contemporary societies altogether. Only right-wing populists claim that they alone represent what they call ‘the real people’ or ‘the silent majority’—and that, as a consequence, the defenders of openness and increasing pluralism must somehow be illegitimate. Hofer confronted Van der Bellen with the statement that ‘you have the haute-volée, I have the people behind me’; Farage declared the outcome of the Brexit referendum a ‘victory for real people’ (thus rendering the 48 percent who voted to stay in the EU somehow ‘unreal.’) Donald Trump has said so many offensive things over the course of the past year that one remark at a rally in May passed virtually unnoticed—even though that statement effectively revealed the populism at the heart of Trump’s worldview: ‘The only thing that matters,’ he said, ‘is the unification of the people—because the other people don’t mean anything.’ Since ‘the real people’ are a myth conjured up by populists, actual election outcomes or opinion polls can always be questioned in their name. If the populist candidate loses, it is not because he or she is not as popular as anticipated; it is because the ‘real people’ have not yet spoken—or worse, have somehow been prevented from expressing themselves. It is not an accident that populists so easily resort to conspiracy theories or rush to contest election outcomes. Yet the Austrian constitutional court was right to order another ballot; otherwise, the FPÖ could have persisted with the claim that its candidate was somehow robbed of victory by illegitimate elites scheming behind the scenes.”