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Face the facts: populism is here to stay

Benjamin Moffitt writes in The Conversation (29.8.16) about the global rise of populist politics. The author argues that, while once a fringe phenomenon from another era or only certain parts of the world, populism is today a mainstay of politics across the globe.

‘When it comes to politics, 2016 has been a very strange year to say the least. Things that aren’t “supposed to happen” – well, they just keep happening.

‘Pauline Hanson, written off as a serial electoral pest whose best days lay back in the late 1990s, has returned to Australian politics with a vengeance, roaring into the Senate with three other One Nation senators by her side. Donald Trump, previously dismissed as a joke candidate, is one of two main candidates for perhaps the most important position of power in the world.

‘And let’s not forget Brexit. Turning expert opinions and most opinion poll results on their heads, it turned out in the referendum that 52% of UK voters did indeed want out of the European Union (EU), allegedly willing to “commit economic suicide”.

‘What has been the reaction to such strange events? Shock. Gasps. Grief. Shaking of heads. And, perhaps worst of all, the “tsk-tsk-tsking” at “the people” who are supposed to know better than to fall for such populist tricks.

‘In all of these situations where “the people” were supposed to “know better”, media pundits, mainstream parties, pollsters and experts of various stripes have been stunned by outcomes that seemed inconceivable.

‘My contention is that these are not blips on the radar, not weird one-offs. These events are happening across the globe, where “the people” are spitting in the face of “the elite” and rejecting what is being offered to them.’

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