François Delerue | Israel Law Review
The policy process literature focuses on technocratic insiders, while scholarship on populism hones in on demagogic outsiders. The latter’s distrust of elites, compromise, and nuance makes them potentially effective in opposition or government, but less obviously as intervenors in policy formation between elections. We argue that, under certain conditions, populists can effectively insert themselves into policy processes without seizing power or even reducing the basic polarity they believe exists between “the elite” and “the people.” In particular, populists can “monkey wrench” the policy process by getting maligned elites to act against their own interests, even if the populists themselves can agree on no alternative policies. Using original archival materials, we illustrate how the transnational movement against the Multilateral Agreement on Investment in the late 1990s deployed monkey-wrenching. In so doing, we contribute to an understanding of how Benjamin Moffitt’s conception of the populist style can be deployed to analyze left-wing transnational nongovernmental policy entrepreneurs, instead of the right-wing national government aspirants who are often focused upon in political science research on populism. We conclude that interdisciplinary scholarship between political scientists and historians can identify circumstances when populists’ influence on policy is more likely.