Paper/Speech Details of Conference Program for the 30th NISPAcee Annual Conference Program Overview WG9: The Rule of Law & Public Administration Author(s) Jowanka Jakubek-Lalik University of Warsaw Warsaw Poland Title Populism, authoritarianism and administrative law File Paper files are available only for conference participants, please login first. Presenter(s) Jowanka Jakubek-Lalik Abstract Populism, authoritarianism and administrative law One of the most important, if not the most important function of administrative law is to protect the individual against the abuse of power by the state. The basic constitutional principle - that the public administration bodies may act only on the basis and within the limits of the law - is to protect citizens and ensure the predictability of state actions by limiting the possibility of interfering with their rights and freedoms. It can therefore be said that administrative law is by its very nature populist. The increase in populism observed in recent years is related to the fact that the so-called „liberal democracy” often did not present an attractive offer for the whole of society, and focused - at least in the perception of a significant part of citizens - on improving the lives only of the elite. Thus, a large part of society feels alienated and abandoned by democratic institutions. People also less and less trust experts; misinformation and fake news are spreading. Social and economic inequalities, tribalism, and belief in "alternative facts" are increasing, contrary to the rational legacy of the Enlightenment Age. Experts have more and more difficulties with explaining a complicated reality in a language that is understandable to all, and to convinced to scientific reasoning. Growing dissatisfaction with democratic institutions is tipping the scales in favour of populism and supporting authoritarian tendencies. These processes have a lot to do with administrative law. Not only that, the question may be asked whether lawyers bear some responsibility for these trends and can they answer them? After all, lawyers are trained to seek answers through rational reasoning within a self-contained (and largely self-defined) logical structure. The logical process by which answers and solutions to complex problems are found, however, is not easy to understand for people who do not have the appropriate expert knowledge. There seems therefore to be a considerable tension between the certainty felt by lawyers in understanding administrative justice, and the uncertainty and confusion felt by those individuals and communities that the system is intended to serve. Undoubtedly, reason and consistent application of rules are better than the arbitrary vagaries of authoritarian power, but the real question remains - how are the courts to express justice, fairness and equity in a manner that is accessible and appropriate to the layman? Translating these dilemmas relevant to the application of administrative law into a language that is understandable to the general public seems to be the only right way for the future of this branch of law in a democratic state. It also has the potential to prevent public authorities from sliding into authoritarianism. Administrative law, in essence based on populist assumptions, may thus become truly populist.