2016 established the ascendancy of Populist parties. The UK Brexit vote was soon followed by the election of former property magnate Donald Trump to the US Presidency. In the years since, this political trend has become an even more powerful force. Especially in European democracies. Newer parties are being elected on anti-establishment platforms that threaten the post-war liberal consensus. Whether right-wing or ultra-leftist, populist parties are now setting the political agenda across the continent . What does this mean for Europe's democracies, economies and political landscapes?
Populism means healthy politicsShow moreShow less
Populism has grown for reason. It is an ideology that people respond to, support and agree with.
Populist policies are about engaging people who felt left behind and cut off from politics. They are about mass appeal to large groups of people.
Democracy is dominated by elites. Many central political parties do not represent the views of large demographic groups. They felt like they had no one to vote for who would speak for them, their values and anxieties.
The popularity of populist parties and politicians shows there was a hunger for this type of politics.
Elite consensus has held for decades that these views were not viable or sensible, and so they were ignored by the mainstream. The fact that these views have gained so much shows that they existed but were not represented.
In a democratic world, representation of views is something we should value. Whether or not we agree with them, they should be openly discussed. Everyone has an equal right to vote and be represented, and the fact that a few elites disagree with them is no reason to stop it.
Populism threatens democracy. While its greatest beneficiaries may be using democratic process to increase their own power, they do not intend to keep these channels open for others to compete once they are elected.
People's views should be represented in a democracy.
Populism represents views of people.
These views were not being represented.