Manual Populism, Racism and Society in Eastern Europe

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Populists tend to frame politics as a battle between the virtuous 'ordinary' masses and a nefarious or corrupt elite — and insist that the general will of the people must always triumph. The Guardian is adopting the classic definition of populism proposed by political scientist Cas Mudde.

Populism, he says, is often combined with a 'host' ideology, which can either be on the left or right. Against the backdrop of increasing populist vote share and influence, the Guardian is launching a six-month investigative series to explore who the new populists are, what factors brought them to power, and what they are doing once in office.

There are, literally, almost no migrants. And nonetheless, people are dissatisfied. Postwar populists found an early toehold in Europe in Alpine countries with long histories of nationalist or far-right tendencies. Italy, another country with a history of radical rightwing politics, voted four times for the populist Silvio Berlusconi. But for the rest of the s, the tendency remained confined to this central troika, each with their own political peculiarities.

Racism and White Supremacy in Europe

The tide started to turn with the turn of the century. The political landscape in the Netherlands was shaken up in with the rapid rise of the populist Pim Fortuyn, and then by his assassination. In came the financial crisis and recession.

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As many people, particularly in southern Europe, saw living standards shrink, the centrist parties that had governed hitherto — and the Eurocrats in Brussels with their clipboard austerity — became an obvious target. In Italy, decades of corruption, mismanagement and the impact of the refugee crisis resulted in the anti-establishment, tax-and-spend Five Star Movement sweeping to power last year in an unlikely coalition with the far-right, anti-immigration League. The biggest advances have been made in central and eastern Europe. Both parties only started showing their true colours — populist, culturally conservative, authoritarian — after they were first elected.

Populism today is cultural:. In an unprecedented power grab, Republicans in Wisconsin are doing all they can while they still have the power to shut out democracy itself. The little guy not feeling heard. City sophisticates and their culture mistrusted by country people. A pretend anti-elite which actually caters to the powerful elites. Intense hatred of the press.

Big business targeting the regulatory system. An out of. As Jeremy Corbyn is continuing to rise as he leads the traditional left Labour Party of the United Kingdom, his detractors are working feverishly to discredit him as an anti-Semite. When big gets too big, free market capitalism is stifled. The increased concentration of power and wealth undercuts economic freedom. A big, though lesser known, aspect of.

Much like the toxic combination of angry racist populism with the power of the financial elite here in America, the European Union has been a brake on this dangerous combination in England. It may be out in the open now, and it is disconcerting to see and feel the blatant racism and hatred across America now.

But maybe the ugly spirit of white supremacy may have been hidden from white people before. The focus of. More of the same or real change? The structure of the Democratic Party itself is being tested in Texas. The Washington insiders have come down to make their picks,but what about the actual. It was a successful popular movement for empowerment.

And it was a close call: the parliamentary leader tried to declare himself prime minister, Armenians took to the streets in creative, even artistic, civil disobedience on a mass scale. They successfully. But to defeat populists, it is not enough to hope that facts will once again become more convincing than conspiracy theories and lies.

Populism - Atlantic Council

The question is not whether populism is here to stay but whether democracy is about to go. People will have to live with populism in the future as they have lived with various forms of populism for many decades before. The difference now is that actors both in and outside Western societies have successfully weaponized populism to use it against various aspects of liberal democracies. It opens doors for foreign interventions—from Russian government—sponsored trolls to expanding U.

Weaponized populism is also a useful tool for all those who had hesitated to articulate hate as hate and attacks as attacks. No more political correctness for them! Finally, they can say things they always wanted to. But look on the brighter side: for once, people in the West have a clear decision to make—between their own model of democracy and something many of them strongly disagree with. This clear choice is a chance they should grab.


A chance to make sure that Western democracies are here to stay, regardless of populists. Populist movements come and go. They tend to gain momentum whenever people perceive that their concerns are being ignored by self-serving elites. High inequality, stagnating wages, and concerns over migration are the main drivers of the current wave. If these worries are addressed seriously, the anger in the population will diminish again. The greater worry is the erosion of representative democracy, a trend that enhances the destructive power of populist storms. As Simon Tormey of the University of Sydney has pointed out, the old collective identities on which traditional democracy was based have broken down.

Democracy has been hollowed out by a decline of national sovereignty. Fragmented modern media reinforce rather than challenge prejudices. In the post-truth and post-fact age, the quality of political discourse has declined. People have lost trust in their political representatives and demand more direct democracy, which, however, can only complement and not replace representative democracy. There is thus an urgent need to modernize the political process. Representative democracy must be made more transparent, participatory, and responsive.

Politicians need to become more accessible and accountable, and civil society must be systematically involved in decisionmaking. Only if people feel that their voices are heard and taken seriously will they regain confidence in the political process. Populist radical-right parties are but one symptom of the current crisis of legitimacy plaguing liberal democracies. Distrust in political parties and the media is extremely high and disillusionment with mainstream politics is rampant as people feel no longer listened to or cared for.

Populist radical-right parties have managed to capitalize on this trend, but most people remain unconvinced by their reactionary politics. However, as mainstream parties fail to take this rejection into account and instead pander to xenophobic and racist sentiment, and as the Left is so far unable to put forward a convincing alternative or deliver on strong mandates for change, a vast portion of the electorate will continue to abstain or vote for the least worst option.

While politicians and the media alike ignore these voters and their grievances, the populist radical Right will gain further legitimacy as the sole alternative to the political status quo in the public discourse. This in turn will normalize racist discourse further. Populism is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future.

The West is currently experiencing a populist zeitgeist, in which populist frameworks juxtaposing the pure people against the corrupt elite strongly influence the political debate. Such frameworks are driven by the rise of populist parties, but they have been adopted—in more moderate forms—by both mainstream parties and mainstream media note the narrative that the liberal elite has lost touch with the heartland, which has dominated much of the British media since the June 23 Brexit vote and is currently omnipresent in the United States. However, it is a particular form of populism that is successful: the populist radical Right, which combines populism with nativism and authoritarianism.

Left-wing populism has remained limited to a few Southern European countries that were hardest hit by the economic crisis. The current success of populist radical-right parties is driven at least as much by nativism as by populism. That explains why the economic crisis was a catalyst and not a cause. Many mainstream politicians seem to think the only way to beat the populists is to copy their populism, albeit in a more moderate form.

But that approach will strengthen rather than weaken the real populists.

In , American political theorist Benjamin Barber wrote a book called Jihad vs. McWorld , which contests that globalization of necessity brings forth tribalism of different stripes: religious, national, racial, and class antagonisms. This has happened across the Islamic world, in Africa and Asia, and then in Europe; now, it has reached the United States. Thus those who remain dissatisfied will always have the potential to restart history. President-elect Donald Trump, is the prototype of this Nietzschean would-be superman.

It seems that liberal globalism—two terms that have become negative epithets on the radical Left and Right—needs to look closely at the questions of dignity and community raised by these thinkers twenty years ago. Unless answers are found, tribal populism could engulf the world again, as it has done before. The party, founded by comedian Beppe Grillo, already rules the town halls of Rome and Turin.

Populism won at the political pulpit of the Internet, unchallenged by liberal opinion makers, who were either too smug to see the sansculottes or too eager to use rage against their foes. Populist attacks have been aimed at U. Yet when the populist genie leaves the democratic bottle, it is impossible to tame him. So yes, spurred on by fake news and rabid media, populism has the field now.

Rational leaders should unite in a common front, win the battle against the demagogues, and then restart the political debate.