Pop­ulists surge on sev­eral con­ti­nents

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Don­ald Trump’s elec­tion as US pres­i­dent is the lat­est ex­am­ple of surg­ing po­lit­i­cal pop­ulism fu­elled by sup­port­ers’ fears that glob­al­iza­tion is leav­ing them be­hind. Here are ex­am­ples from three con­ti­nents:

Mak­ing Amer­ica Great Again?

De­spite the fact that he has never held pub­lic of­fice-or maybe be­cause of it-brash bil­lion­aire Trump won the US elec­tion af­ter one of most bit­ter cam­paigns in mem­ory. Trump pledged to “Make Amer­ica Great Again” and re­store jobs to mid­dle- and work­ing-class Amer­i­cans wor­ried about im­mi­gra­tion and an ex­o­dus of jobs. His in­sults against His­pan­ics, Mus­lims and women were per­ceived by mil­lions as plain­speak­ing, or at worst, “locker-room talk”, by a sup­port base made up strongly of non-col­lege-ed­u­cated white voters. His back­ers also wel­comed a man they per­ceived as a busi­ness-savvy white knight who would pro­tect do­mes­tic pro­duc­tion against for­eign trade, and put na­tional in­ter­ests over in­ter­na­tional agree­ments like on Iran or cli­mate change.

Ro­drigo Duterte’s foul-mouthed tirades against the Filipino elite helped him cul­ti­vate a man-of-the-peo­ple im­age that pro­pelled him to the pres­i­dency in June. The fire­brand pop­ulist has made clear he is will­ing to for­sake hu­man rights for law and or­der, vow­ing to kill tens of thou­sands of crim­i­nals. His war on drugs and other crime has al­ready claimed more than 4,100 lives. Duterte has shifted the Philippines’ po­lit­i­cal align­ment away from its key al­liance with the US, strength­en­ing ties with China. He has taken his blis­ter­ing an­tiAmer­i­can rhetoric far enough to call US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama a “son of a whore”, al­though he later apol­o­gized for that re­mark.

‘Take back con­trol’ Brexit

Com­men­ta­tors have drawn strong com­par­isons be­tween Trump’s vic­tory and Bri­tain’s shock ref­er­en­dum vote in June to quit the Euro­pean Union, which was driven by anger over im­mi­gra­tion and the per­cep­tion that Brus­sels bu­reau­crats wield too much power. De­fy­ing polls and much of Bri­tain’s po­lit­i­cal and me­dia elite, 52 per­cent of Bri­tish voters backed a di­vorce from the 28-na­tion bloc. Pop­ulist Nigel Farage led the an­tiEU UK In­de­pen­dence Party into the bit­ter cam­paign, be­com­ing the face of a move­ment to “take back con­trol” of Bri­tain’s bor­ders and im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy. Trump had vowed in his fi­nal cam­paign push Mon­day that the US elec­tion would be “Brexit plus plus plus”. Farage was among those to con­grat­u­late the pres­i­dent-elect Wed­nes­day, say­ing: “2016 is, by the looks of it, go­ing to be the year of two great po­lit­i­cal rev­o­lu­tions.”

Europe’s rightwing tide

A pop­ulist tide has been sweep­ing Europe as it bat­tles its worst mi­gra­tion cri­sis since World War II, strug­gling to cope with the ar­rival last year of hun­dreds of thou­sands of refugees and other mi­grants from the Mid­dle East, Africa and South Asia. In France, Marine Le Pen of the far-right Na­tional Front is set to make it into next May’s pres­i­den­tial run-off, al­though polls pre­dict she will be beaten by a more main­stream con­ser­va­tive can­di­date. From Aus­tria to the Nether­lands, Ger­many and even fa­mously tol­er­ant Scan­di­navia, on­ce­fringe par­ties are gain­ing ground and pub­lic ac­cep­tance.

Ger­many’s anti-mi­grant, anti-Is­lam Al­ter­na­tive for Ger­many (AfD) is polling at around 12 per­cent na­tion­ally af­ter win­ning a slew of seats in state assem­blies, pro­vid­ing a ma­jor headache to Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel as she heads into an elec­tion year. Hun­gary’s rightwing premier Vic­tor Or­ban has be­come a fig­ure­head for anti-refugee sen­ti­ment in east­ern Europe, while the Aus­trian far-right’s Nor­bert Hofer is hop­ing to win De­cem­ber 4’s re-run vote for the pres­i­dency, a largely cer­e­mo­nial role. — AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.