The imperfect balance: populists between economic nationalism and neoliberalism

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Bilkent University

The recent surge of populism around the world has been accompanied by a rise in economic nationalism, mostly pursued by populists in government. Despite changes in the global economy, neoliberalism still remains the dominant paradigm, and therefore creates constraints on governments which follow unorthodox economic approaches. This thesis questions how populist governments pursue economic nationalism in a neoliberal world. It argues that populists seek to maintain an imperfect balance between economic nationalist and neoliberal policies, in an attempt to satisfy different audiences at the same time, including the electorate, the domestic private sector, and international markets. In order to analyze populist governments’ attempts at maintaining the imperfect balance, the thesis explores the policies of the Fidesz government in Hungary and the AKP government in Turkey, by looking at how they have been trying to reconcile economic nationalism with neoliberalism over the past decade. The ability of Fidesz to sustain a relative macroeconomic stability and continued foreign investment demonstrate the determining role played by audience constraints in the success or failure of populists’ attempts to maintain the balance.

Cataloged from PDF version of article.
Thesis (Master's): Bilkent University, Department of International Relations, İhsan Doğramacı Bilkent University, 2021.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 91-109).
Economic nationalism, Hungary, Neoliberalism, Populism, Turkey