Populism has emerged in various forms in many parts of the world in recent years. While it is typically associated with an anti-establishment and anti-elite narrative, it is striking how it often coincides with cronyism—favored relations between the state and (some) big business. This talk will seek to put some structure and perspective on these phenomena, interpreting the central features of both populism and cronyism, and their consequences for economic and social development—that is (perhaps surprisingly) ambiguous. For example, in India, Tamil Nadu has in the past been, by international standards, a real success in economic and social development, even as it has vividly exemplified both populist politics and cronyist state-business relations. The current conjuncture will also be explored.
The talk will draw on both an ongoing comparative study of state-business relations in India, Egypt, Turkey and South Africa and secondary literature on the history and contemporary features of cronyism and populism.