Economic Uncertainty Spurs Rise Of Political Populists Worldwide

WaveWhile there appear to be few similarities between Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, they are more alike than supporters of either would care to admit. In fact, they might be two sides of the same anti-Establishment, populist coin.

Trump and Sanders parrot the same talking points about the evil of global trade pacts, the loss of jobs to foreign companies and countries, and the economic uncertainty which is coursing through the veins of the middle class.

In Europe, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has urged intensified border controls “to keep Europe Christian,” while a growing number of Britons favor leaving the European Union.

Waves of immigrants flowing across the borders in the US and Europe, the ripples terrorism caused by multiple Middle East conflicts and a still-weakened world economic have created global environment characterized by economic uncertainty and geopolitical chaos. That environment has proved to be fertile ground for the growth of populist movements across the political spectrum, contends Stephen Fidler in the Wall Street Journal.

“With a sluggish economic recovery in the eurozone and tensions over migration, frustration among voters over the perceived failure of incumbent politicians has bolstered self-styled alternatives, of the left and the right, in continental Europe. The phenomenon is wider: Anger among some voters against the political “establishment” helped left-winger Jeremy Corbyn to become leader of the British Labour Party and, on the other side of the political spectrum, has buoyed the presidential campaign of billionaire Donald Trump,” writes Fidler.

Fidler’s colleague, Gerald Seib, also observes that economic frustration fueled a populist revolt in Europe long before Donald Trump announced his presidential run.

“In Europe and the U.S., the movement is fueled by middle-class economic insecurities, exacerbated by fear of immigrants arriving to steal jobs or soak up welfare money and other taxpayer dollars. Those anxieties are overlaid with an absolute conviction among many citizens that existing political leaders either don’t understand or, worse yet, don’t care,” says Seib.

What has emerged is a populist movement on both the left and the right, which has produced populations that are “more hostile not just to government elites but also to big business and financial interests,” he adds.

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