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The rise of populism in developed countries

May 4, 2017

This year a lot of presidential elections occurred and we can notice that populism rises a lot in the different votes. First of all, I will define the term “populism”.  We hear by “populism” the criticism of the elite (political, social…) and the fact of being as close as possible to the people. Moreover, populists are against all kinds of coalition such as the European Union. They are protectionist despite the context of globalization, they  focus on their own countries.

Populism rises for many reasons. First of all, people are afraid of the situation in the Arabic countries, thus they are also scared about terrorism and Islam.  Another explanation could be that some of them cannot bear the cleavage right/ left anymore. In France, with this second turn the desire to overcome this original cleavage, is obvious. In fact, this second turn confronts Emmanuel Macron, who is the former Minister of Economy and who has just created his “movement” (this is not a real party). He plays on the fact that he chose the good aspects of both right (capitalist) and left (socialist). And on the other hand Marine Le Pen who is an extreme right wing and who plays on fear and on patriotism.  She is in favor of closing the borders.

Some countries made the choice of populism: this is the case of the United States who elected Donald Trump who wants to create a wall between his state and Mexico in order to fight against migrants. However, populists are not necessarily from the extreme right. Melenchon, for instance, is at the extreme left of the political chessboard. He doesn’t want to close the borders or to leave the European Union (even if he wants to modify it) but he expresses his desire to leave NATO.

Even though  populism rises, in some European countries it didn’t pass ; for example, in the Netherlands Geert Wilders (who is against islam) failed against Mark Rutte who comes from the right liberals. In addition, in Austria, the presidential elections were very fierce and though the scores were very close, populism finally didn’t win.

Currently, being a populist is no longer seen as shameful. Thus, in France people who voted for Jean-Marie Le Pen used to hide it because it was not well perceived.  But since Marine Le Pen succeeded in changing the image of this party (FN), she is not seen as a racist anymore. Indeed, she  wants to be considered as the “candidate of the people”.

Consequently, we will see in a few days if populism wins in France or not.


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