Generation Brexit

Is populism a threat to democracy?

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The EU referendum campaign was arguably a suspension of the normal proceedings of liberal democracy in the United Kingdom. Countless analyses have proclaimed the Brexit vote to be an expression of a majoritarian and anti-pluralist democratic process, hence a populist one. For others, the vote mobilised the highest percentage of votes in recent decades and was thus an undiluted expression of popular will. Furthermore, the vote can be seen to have given voice to the disenfranchised and the forgotten and as such may have restored the people’s trust in democracy.

Can we thus classify the Brexit vote as a populist development?

• Where the causes of the Brexit vote primarily economic, and/or political, and/or social?
• What ideology stood behind the Leave campaign, how was its message delivered?
• What precedent does the Brexit vote set for British liberal democracy and with what implications?

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I do not believe that populism has to be a threat to democracy, I see it as more of a symptom of neoliberal politics which has eroded democratic choices with populism being the backlash.

Toon Hollevoet
by Toon Hollevoet
0 Votes
Comments 0
Toon Hollevoet

We have been asking why there is such a surge of populist movements and parties, and regard it as abnormal and morbid in a democracy. But we seldom ask what, for those who vote for populist parties, would be the alternative if not populist parties. And on top of that, many of them used to be loyal to traditional left-right parties, why the change? We often attribute it to the increasing socio-economic inequalities, and people have every reason to think this way as it’s obvious that the...

Yangmin Lai
by Yangmin Lai
1 Votes
Comments 0
Yangmin Lai

The message of the leave campaign relies not just on traditional forms of media, but on the rising power of social media to deliver the message. According to Techcrunch, over two hundred thousand pounds were used by pro-Brexit campaigners to reach over 10 million constituency-specific voters through Facebook ads, and encourage people to send messages against Brexit to their representatives. In contrast to traditional news outlets, this website advertised did not provide contact or reporter...

Jina Shi
by Jina Shi
4 Votes
Comments 1
Jina Shi

In recent years, the redistributive and disruptive effects of globalization have polarized politics in tandem with a rise in identity politics. Under this polarization, sentiments esposed by politicians such as Trump and the leave campaign appeal to a growing population whose identity is linked to their circumstances and the perceived notion that the institutions before them fail to deliver their interests. In reaction, the vote of the people has reflected the majority of opinion: in Britain...

Jina Shi
by Jina Shi
4 Votes
Comments 1
Jina Shi

The Brexit vote is clearly a populist development, but the question is whether or not this is what the UK wants for the future of their democracy. Allowing the Brexit vote to be a vote the whole country can participate in, rather than following the normal proceedings, can be considered detrimental to the future of the UK.  The vote had the largest amount of people who voted in the recent decades, however; this means the vote included people who are not usually involved in learning about...

Miguel Huertas
by Miguel Huertas
10 Votes
Comments 2
Miguel Huertas

The problem with populism is not that it infringes on democracy but rather that it creates enemies within the political system. While it is true that the tides of political thought transition at almost every new term, populism provokes a negative spirit in the population of the majority in order to inspire support and ignite change. Differing political ideals are of course fine and are a justified part of the nature of democracy, but at the end of the day there should be a sense of unity...

Tatiana Harris
by Tatiana Harris
10 Votes
Comments 3
Tatiana Harris

Out of all the forms of government theorized and crafted throughout history, democracy gives each citizen relatively significant influence over crafting the rules and laws that govern them. While no modern country has a full implementation of direct democracy (most opting for representative democracy), the democratic systems around the world tend to do a decent job of representing the interests of citizens. When compared to other historic forms of government (monarchy, dictatorship,...

Whitney Dankworth
by Whitney Dankworth
12 Votes
Comments 2
Whitney Dankworth

I believe that populism gives the false pretense of democracy to the disenfranchised and forgotten. The Brexit vote mobilized the highest percentage of votes in recent decades and thus might seem like it gave a pure democratic vote, giving those same disenfranchised trust in the democratic system. However, as we can see, especially looking at recent developments in Brexit negotiations, the end product of Brexit will almost assuredly fail to live up to a “democratic” decision. First and...

Hursh Desai
by Hursh Desai
11 Votes
Comments 2
Hursh Desai

The driving cause that led to the divisive outcome of the referendum can be said to be due to the widening socioeconomic inequality in the United Kingdom. As with the case in most developing countries, the dividends of progress and innovation are never reaped equally and have inevitably widened the gap along the fault-lines of the rural and urban divide, level of education, class, and more. With immigration then presented as an easy victim to designate as the reason for the increasing...

Rachel Tong
by Rachel Tong
12 Votes
Comments 0
Rachel Tong

Populism has been surging since 2016, with events like the French Elections, the Brexit vote, and the election of Donald Trump. According to an article in the Guardian, populist parties' votes have also tripled in Europe over the last 20 years. But is this a sign that democracy is failing, or is a sign that prolonged economic hardship has driven people towards more radical ideologies? According to the article referenced below, when people feel disenfranchised from the more traditional...

Jackie Yang
by Jackie Yang
14 Votes
Comments 2
Jackie Yang
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