Generation Brexit

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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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Populist parties and movements, in recent years, have gained traction and momentum across both the continent, the UK and across the pond in the USA. In Washington; Donald Trump's xenophobic, nationalistic, nearing far right-wing populist campaign and success proved the power of populism in a globalist world. The Italian Five-Star Movement and Northern League coalition government, with anti-establishment PM Giuseppe Conte leading the charge, head towards a populist Italy planning mass...

Oliver Lambourn
by Oliver Lambourn
6 Votes
Comments 5
Oliver Lambourn

The threat is not coming from the populism itself but from the radical orientations that normally come along with it. Whether a populist kind of talk nor the criticism of the status quo mean a threat to democracy. A degree of scepticism is actually desirable for a democracy. Radical political orientations on the other hand are a threat to democracies since they hamper the political process by not accepting compromises. The populism is just a way of spreading their political beliefs. A...

Jan Hauser
by Jan Hauser
4 Votes
Comments 2
Jan Hauser

Populism appears to be an immanent element of our democratic system. It works at its best during social/economic/political crises, when trust in institutions is fading and the public's desire for easy, ready solutions seems unquenchable. Populist rhetoric is, in my view, a very rational response of the political class to irrational anxieties and fears amongst the people. The Brexit referendum is a case in point. If we start from the assumption that populism may be a threat to the democratic...

Cosimo Mati
by Cosimo Mati
8 Votes
Comments 3
Cosimo Mati

Populism is considered as a new tool of the citizens for their voice to be heard. If we consider the latest practice of UK, this state has applied one of the most powerful tool of populism which is the referendum. According to the Brexiteers’ clinching argument: “The people have spoken.” As far as the citizens think that they are acting for what they don't like and they are happy for such practice, then the populism cannot be considered as a threat to democracy. In the end, the democracy is...

Anisa Berisha
by Anisa Berisha
13 Votes
Comments 7
Anisa Berisha

Populism: the global phenomenon that is ripping apart the political landscape as we know it. Its uprising has been unforeseen and astounded those who witnessed the populist uprising. From Donald Trump to the Five Star movement populist politicians and parties are exploiting their new weapon and having dramatic consequences on the world as we know it. Populism is defined as political style of action that mobilizes a large alienated element of population against a government, usually...

Dillon Somia
by Dillon Somia
11 Votes
Comments 3
Dillon Somia

Populism is simply a political tool. It isn't a threat to democracy - it's a style of communication between candidate and voter, representative and citizen. Empathising with the public through rhetoric is one of the key jobs of politicians while elections are taking place, and the setting up of an 'us vs. them' dichotomy is merely one way of connecting with voters. It is certainly not something that is unique to right-wingers. Those who supported the Remain campaign and Hillary Clinton are...

Thomas Mills
by Thomas Mills
10 Votes
Comments 6
Thomas Mills

Looking to South America, we can see previously marginalized social groups being mobilized by populists. In Argentina, there is Desarrollismo in order to help that part of the population which has been hit hardest by the economic crises. The Kirchners, as a family coming from a politically unimportant region and making it to the Capitale, gave hope to the disenfranchised. Of course, populism also has its downsides, especially when turning extremist, but: Whatever the actual goal of the...

Martina Svibic
by Martina Svibic
14 Votes
Comments 5
Martina Svibic

In the US, the UK, France, and just about every other Western democracy, there is a political party that promises what it cannot deliver — a time machine. The recent rise in populism is due to a gradual, and increasingly conspicuous, erosion of national sovereignty. The West can no longer sustain itself. What’s more, it hasn’t been able to for years. It has become heavily dependent on international commerce, foreign direct investment, and global capital markets. This, in turn, makes them...

Louis de Dumast
by Louis de Dumast
14 Votes
Comments 2
Louis de Dumast

To the populists, the "people" of the nation constitute a hypothetical and homogenous body that can be played off against actual election results (Muller, 2015). They have a tendency to invoke the "silent majority", justifying that they have considerable supporters who have just yet to speak up. This allows them to declare themselves as the legitimate presidents even if election did not go in their favour, as we see in Orban and Obrador, and perhaps even Trump if election results were...

Jiahui Wu
by Jiahui Wu
9 Votes
Comments 0
Jiahui Wu

Populist movements fight over the meaning of representation in democracies. Because populist politicians present themselves as leaders above party pluralism, and because populist movements make claims in the name of the allegedly unanimous “will of the people,” they challenge and strain constitutional procedures for elections and representative government. Such strains can open the door to regime change in the direction of tyranny or dictatorship.

Joe164857
by Joe164857
8 Votes
Comments 2
Joe164857
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