"(...) Populism is always a form of identity politics (though not all versions of identity politics are populist.) What follows from this understanding of populism as an exclusionary form of identity politics is that populism tends to pose a danger to democracy. For democracy requires pluralism and the recognition that we need to find fair terms of living together as free, equal, but also irreducibly diverse citizens. The idea of the single, homogenous, authentic people is a fantasy (...) And it is a dangerous fantasy, because populists do not just thrive on conflict and encourage polarization; they also treat their political opponent as “enemies of the people” and seek to exclude them altogether.
This is not to say that all populists will send their enemies to a gulag or build walls around the country’s borders, but neither is populism limited to harmless campaign rhetoric or a mere protest that burns out as soon as a populist wins power. (...)
Populist governance exhibits three features: attempts to hijack the state apparatus , corruption and “mass clientelism” (...) and efforts systematically to suppress civil society.
Of course, many authoritarians will do similar things. The difference is that populists justify their conduct by claiming that they alone represent the people; this allows populists to avow their practices quite openly. It also explains why revelations of corruption rarely seem to hurt populist leaders (...) In the eyes of their followers, “they’re doing it for us”, the one authentic people."
What Is Populism?, Jan-Werner Müller