Populism is an ideological demagogical political style that unites a wider range of people to oppose strong, hardly individual governments (Stavrakakis and Giorgos 121). The main aim of populism is to unite an honest majority, which is free of corruption against influential, wealthy and corrupt leaders. It is founded on the idea that the masses should always act directly to boost opportunities in politics to achieve social objectives. The rise of populism is influenced by the failure of the institutions of power to serve the interest of the people as per their manifestos. It is a practice that is so much recognized and allowed by a country whose governance is firmly founded on democracy (Stavrakakis and Giorgos 121). In the recent development, observers classify the rise of President Donald Trump into politics as a populist action. Populism represents a return to government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
One argument that supports the statement is the fact that it is an ideology that is seen to counter-effect the manipulation of democracy. Most of the powerful politicians have used the democratic rule of the people to their advantage as they get elected but never deliver their promises (Allon). Populism brings back governance to the people by collectively addressing the failures of the government through the people’s voice. The rule of the people by the people and for the people was the original definition of democracy by Abraham Lincoln. The definition meant that the people had to make the rules that they could use to govern themselves for their well-being. Nevertheless, corrupt and powerful politicians use the same laws of the people to benefit themselves. An individual who stands firm to spot the gaps of the government and then mobilizes the population towards a collective social action is a populist. Such a person represents the bestowed power of the people and airs their grievances thus leading to the return of authority to the people.
Populism is a threat to most governments especially in sovereigns that believe in democracy. It exploits the vulnerable aspects of the government thus undermines some of the activities of the regime to weaken it. Given that it comprises of the people’s voice which is a basic composition of the government, it’s vital that the authorities listen to the citizens’ propositions. Otherwise, drastic consequences follow. It is thus the role of the government to stay in watch of all its provisions so that better strategies for addressing citizens’ needs can be adopted. Populism can also become a threat because it progresses to activism as fast as possible. Activism addresses the Patriots concerns through demonstrations which can at times paralyse the normal activities and functions of the public services.
The political populism theory explains that populism is categorized into right, left and middle wings (Stavrakakis and Giorgos 129). Politicians usually take the left-wing where they decide to speak the sole truth and on matters that affect the people to the extent that they end up winning the polls. Donald Trump rose to power by adopting the left wing. His manifestos were on the concerns of the people (Savan). Trump did not side with the government but instead exposed their incompetence openly. The move gave him the votes that raised him into office. The same applied in the ‘Brexit’ politics in the UK (Allon). When authoritarians manipulate populism and side with the people, they can quickly inflict blowbacks to the government for their gain.
Recep Tayyp Erdogan was able to isolate his opponent, Fetullah Gullen, as an enemy of the state. He blamed Gullen for the attempted coup attacks that took place in Turkey. He was able to use the occurrence to demand extradition of his opponent (Bacik and Salur 168). The isolation of the enemy was vivid as Mr. Bozdag, a Turkish citizen speaking to the TRT Haber channel, said that everybody in Turkey was sure that Gullen was behind the attacks. The Telegram reported that Genther Oentinger, a Commissioner from the European Union, warned Erdogen against using the occurrence to do as he wished as that would only make him stronger domestically but alienated internationally (Bacik and Salur 172).
John Cassidy of the New Yorker, a political analyst, and theorist, believes that Donald Trump rose to popularity out of hope in ideas of actual governance. He illustrates that one of the factors that contributed to Trump’s uprising included his wealth and fame that made it impossible to be subjected to financial influence. Hunter S. Thompson used the same traits to foresee the rise of Donald Trump. The Golden Greece Movement was founded in 1980 by Michaloliakos mainly to create awareness of the military dictatorship that had come back to Greece (Allon). Populism was observed here as the populist realised that the rule of the people was being taken away from them.
The movement also worked in the recovery of the Greece’s financial crisis. The euro currency made it more expensive for Greece to be able to export its products. However, Germany was earning a lot of interest from the euro which was weaker compared to her currency. Spain and Greece had currencies that were not getting any favours from the European Union. Demitris Keridis, a professor of politics and science, said that the populist movement could make Greece the minority yet they are in their country (Mares). In the Guardian, he supported the ideology that the movement was becoming stronger and more powerful than any other party in the country. The populism was thus seen as a threat instead of serving its role as a movement for change.
Vladimir Putin has currently gone for the third term in the Russian Presidential election (Bacik and Salur 168). According to the report written by William Partlett in 2012 on the constitutionality of Vladimir Putin’s Third Term, Putin changed Article 81 of Section 3 which bars one from being in the Russian Presidency for over two terms. Donald Trump can govern U.S.A with executive orders, but democracy will still be maintained in the House of Congress (Tharoor). As long as two-thirds of the Congress can always remain in the check of all the rulings made and demanded by the people, the regime of President Trump can always stay in check. The essence of this is thus to show the populist movement that was contradicting the election of Donald Trump that he will still lead the country under the guidance and principles of the constitution.
The National Front of France, first led by Jean Pen, came into existence mainly to oppose the formation of the European Union and the fact that France was part of it. It was the same movement that had taken a strong stand against immigration into France particularly in those times when terrorist attacks were rampant in the country (Mares). According to Financial Times, the activists protested against being told to accept 160,000 illegal people who migrated into the country. The number was likely to rise higher than 1.2 million in the following years. Mr. Val, an economist, confirms that to some extent the decision adopted by the populist was reasonable as far as the country’s economy was concerned. It started as a protest movement and not a political movement that later challenged the mainstream parties. The National Front had plans to bring change back to the France citizens (Savan). Its most firm stand was against the European Union globalization deal that France was a member. The lending and borrowing in the West which led to the recovery and recession got subjected to high levels of populism. People wanted change but not market crash.
Populism has had various changes around the world in ensuring that the rule of the people remains to them at all times. The same incidences have been seen to take place in some countries like the Syrians where elections get rigged, and those who vote are selected. Their right to choose leaders is denied. Not unless the populist critically realize this gap and advocate for the democratic rights of the people, politicians can take a huge advantage. However, the populism movements should be analyzed to avoid manipulation by the authoritarians.
Allon, Janet. “Alternate Economy.” 6 February 2017. Paul Krugman Exposes Trump’s Fraudulent Financial Populism.
Bacik, Gokhan and Sammas Salur. “Coup-proofing in Turkey.” European Journal of Economic and Political Studies3.2 (2016): 163-188.
Mares, Isabela. “Global populism, Romanian resistance.” 4 February 2017. Euro News.
Savan, Leslie. “Words in the Age of Trump.” 3 February 2017. The Nation.
Stavrakakis, Yannis and Katsambekis Giorgos. “Left-wing populism in the European periphery: The case of Syria.” Journal of Political Ideologies 19.2 (2014): 119-142.
Tharoor, Ishaan. “Trump’s populism is about creating division, not unity.” 6 February 2017. Washington Post.