Over the recent years, one can find very few ideas that have had a sudden resurgence in the world as populism. Charismatic leaders, upstart political parties and attractive propaganda have upset the world order to win power in what previously appeared to be stable democracies.
The election of Donald Trump brought this issue to the forefront of the political agenda. Trump, however, only joined a rather long existing list of populist leaders around the world such as Erdoğan in Turkey, Duterte in the Philippines, Chávez and Maduro in Venezuela, Orban in Hungary to name a few. Does such a surge in populist attitudes presage the demise of democracy as we know it?
The rise of populism is not new. There have been different varieties of populist movements in the past: the United States and Russia, for example, had some sort of populism in the 1800s, so one can say that there is not anything new here. Nevertheless, there is a substantial difference between the populism of the past and the one of today: while the former one was intrinsically national, the latter has taken a dangerous international undertone.
Populist parties have almost tripled their vote share in most European countries, and this is slowly being replicated in different regions of the world. Political contexts vary geographically, and so does populism. Right-wing populism tends to find echo in Western and Northern Europe, and the US due to a stronger economy and much more generous welfare systems. This is not the case in Latin America, where rampant insecurity, corruption, poverty and frustration have made a more radical Left-wing message more successful. The failure of political parties and democracies to successfully meet the needs of a fast-changing society and political reality has created a dangerous buffer zone between the establishment and the people. This gap has been effectively exploited by populist leaders on either side of the political spectrum.
While the sudden rise of populism is indeed worrying, it is too early to say that the current world order as we know it is about to collapse. We do, however, need to understand that the tectonic plates are shifting, and if unaware of possible consequences, political systems could eventually become unstable.
Populism has no self-containment mechanism. It also erodes the respect for opposition; the existence of checks and balances; and precludes the possibility of a reasoned debate among political actors as it normalises disagreement over negotiation.
One aspect that is often misunderstood and under analysed is the dramatic rise of political consumerism over party politics. The former should be understood here as giving people what they want. It erodes political representation as political leaders do not represent neither the electorate or the political party. Political consumerism can, thus, pave the way to a sudden resurgence in populism, especially in societies where party fragmentation and electoral volatility are high; but also among societies where political parties, regardless of their political orientation, converge ideologically and reinforce the idea among voters that all political parties are the same.
Therefore, while populism may not kill democracy, it will certainly strain democratic institutions. We need to be able to distance ourselves from our own ideological preferences and seek to understand that populist movements on the Right and Left of the political spectrum, legitimately represent and articulate the demands of certain sectors of society that perceive themselves as forgotten, ignored or let down by mainstream political parties. It is therefore essential to acknowledge that there might be some degree of validity on what they have put on the agenda rather than fully disregard them as non-viable option. Ignoring and disqualifying populist movements may only lead to further entrenchment of radical positions and further fragmentation of politics.
Lisdey Espinoza Pedraza
President of Lithuania's Constitutional Court Dainius Zalimas says Russia's Constitutional Court became an accomplice in an international crime and aggression against Ukraine when it legitimized the accession of occupied Crimea to Russia.( ) Read all
Dagmar Turner wasn't just showing off when she played the violin during her brain surgery at King's College Hospital in London. Surgeons asked the 53-year-old to play her instrument to ensure that the professional violinist's musical abilities were not damaged during a tumor removal....( ) Read all
For the first time in Switzerland, a restaurant catering specifically to nudists will open its doors at the end of February. We reveal all. According to the newspaper Schweiz am Wochenende, the eatery, called "Edelweiss Basel - Nudisten Lounge", will open at Rebgasse 39, in the...( ) Read all
Many of the personnel changes announced recently by Russian President Vladimir Putin appear to be of little significance. However, there are indications that a major policy change towards Ukraine may be underway following reports that Putin has replaced his chief troublemaker Vladislav...( ) Read all
It’s done. A triumph of dogged negotiation by May then, briefly, Johnson, has fulfilled the most pointless, masochistic ambition ever dreamed of in the history of these islands. The rest of the world, presidents Putin and Trump excepted, have watched on in astonishment and dismay. A...( ) Read all
Moldova has a fascinating recent history, and Leontina Vatamanu is perhaps its most articulate cinematic chronicler. Poke through her films, and you’ll realize that her cinema is one of hidden histories: whether it’s exploring one of Moldova’s most famous modern poets and...( ) Read all
From the Black Sea to the Adriatic, the issue of falling population numbers is a drama. In Moldova, it is a trauma. Since 1989, its population has shrunk by almost a third and in 15 years it may be only just over half of what it was back then.( ) Read all
Until the 21st century, the worst a coronavirus, a large family of viruses capable of infecting humans and animals, could do to humans was to deliver the common cold—annoying but hardly sinister. But three times so far in the 21st century, novel coronaviruses have emerged that could...( ) Read all
The 75th anniversary of the end of World War II was the only forthcoming event Russian President Vladimir Putin mentioned in his New Year’s address to the nation. Creating an alternative to the dominant Western narrative about that war is key to Putin’s way of securing Russia’s...( ) Read all
Trains and flights out of the central Chinese city have been canceled as the toll from a new coronavirus grows. The Chinese city of Wuhan, the seventh largest in the country with approximately 11 million people, will be under a partial quarantine from 10 a.m. Chinese time Thursday, according...( ) Read all
The Russian president’s amateur history lessons are outraging neighboring countries. While he is right to criticize a recent EU Parliament resolution, his historical revisionism doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.( ) Read all
In December 2019, I met with the Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova, Ion Chicu. We agreed that Council of Europe experts would visit Chisinau with a view to offering our assistance towards reforms needed to create an independent, accountable, efficient and professional judiciary for the...( ) Read all
On Friday, January 10, Viorel Morari, Moldova’s Anti-Corruption Prosecutor, was detained. Initially held for 72 hours, Morari’s arrest was extended on January 13 for a further 30 days. A number of international outlets reported Mr. Morari’s circumstances, due to the political...( ) Read all
With the narrative that floats around, one is tempted to think that the Ukraine crisis is all about Crimea; that it started and ended there. So what about the internal oblasts like Odessa, Kharkiv, Luhansk, and Donetsk (the South- Eastern regions) where a protracted conflict broke out? Are...( ) Read all
During his visit from 21 to 23 January, the OSCE Special Representative for the Transdniestrian Settlement Process Ambassador Thomas Mayr-Harting will hold talks with high-level Moldovan officials and the political leadership in Tiraspol.( ) Read all
The past few days have been witness, to some important statements made in the context of the Joint Comprehensive Program for Action (JCPOA) — also referred to as the Iran Nuclear deal. US allies, including the UK and some EU member states do not seem to be in agreement with the US...( ) Read all
When Russians woke up on Wednesday morning, most had likely never heard of Mikhail Mishustin, the head of the country’s tax service. But by the time they went to bed that night, Mishustin had been named as Russia’s new prime minister after a day that included a flurry of...( ) Read all
Washington (CNN)Days after President Donald Trump claimed the US killed Iran's top military general because he was targeting four American embassies, two of the President's top national security officials are declining to provide evidence of the intelligence used to justify the US drone...( ) Read all