Populism or Transformative Movements?

Populism or Transformative Movements? YaleGlobal. Alphan Telek and Seren Selvin Korkmaz. March 1, 2018

 Progressive movements promising social, political and economic transformation are the antidote to the anger and fear associated with polarization and populism. The leaders of left-transformative movements pursue serious policymaking to reduce inequality while increasing opportunity and citizen participation, argue Seren Selvin Korkmaz, a Fox International Fellow at Yale University, and Alphan Telek, a PhD candidate at Science Po Paris and Boğaziçi University. The article focuses on the British Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn and the Our Revolution movement led by US Senator Bernie Sanders, but the writers explain that the left-transformative characterization also applies to La France Insoumise, the Five Star Movement in Italy, Podemos in Spain and Syriza in Greece as well as movements emerging in Iran and Tunisia. The progressive leaders share similar goals, and progress by one lifts others by countering the notion that “the left cannot win elections in the neoliberal era.” Korkmaz and Telek conclude, “Left-transformation is a global phenomenon and can reach its ultimate aims with national and international solidarity.”  [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Job and Cultural Insecurity, More than Inequality, Fuels Populism

Job and Cultural Insecurity, More than Inequality, Fuels Populism. YaleGlobal. Pranab Bardhan. February 20, 2018

 For many workers, insecurity is a more pressing concern than inequality. They worry more about jobs threatened by global trade and automation, their communities’ vanishing way of life, and children’s future than inequality and increasing amounts of wealth controlled by a small percentage of the population. Populist leaders, many wealthy themselves, convince substantial numbers of voters that the educated, the experts and established political leaders do not care about the plight of ordinary workers. Middle-class liberals may support the causes that benefit the poor or working class, but they can also “insulate themselves with residences in gentrified cities, assortative marriage patterns and cosmopolitan professional occupations,” explains economist Pranab Bardhan. “Sociologists often point out that the part of inequality that is salient to us is the contrast between our own lifestyle – and housing and school choices – and that of those who may be just above us. The inequality with the billionaires is too distant.” Bardhan offers practical proposals – on wage subsidies, global skill partnerships, and trade union and church initiatives – for countering populism and easing the insecurity over culture, immigration and inequality. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Populism’s Rise Reshapes Global Political Risk

Populism’s Rise Reshapes Global Political Risk. YaleGlobal. Kingsley Chiedu Moghalu. April 20, 2017

“The rise of populism in the Western world redefines the notion of political risk and teaches that risk has no permanent address,” explains Kingsley Chiedu Moghalu, professor of international business and public policy at the Fletcher School at Tufts University and a former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. “Political populism, characterized by a desire to assert domestic democratic sovereignty and rejection of the ‘cult of the expert,’ owes its rise to increasing rejection of the conventional wisdom by citizens who feel left behind by globalization trends.” The backlash was inevitable as inequality swelled and citizens worry about loss of national sovereignty or local control. As a force, populism can contribute to eliminating corruption or dictatorships, and should not be ignored. Moghalu also outlines the risks of rejecting expertise and data, with attempts to substitute facts with conviction as well as threats to impartial institutions designed to safeguard the integrity of democracy. Experts and data are crucial in a complex world that prospers from well-crafted public policies. Those who disagree should argue with analysis and useful and realistic proposals. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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The Crisis of Democracy

The Crisis of Democracy. YaleGlobal. Joanna Korey. March 30, 2017

At the close of the 20th century, democracy was the world’s most popular form of governance, an inspiring force. Then the 2008 economic crisis struck, a result of excess and debt, and eroded trust in national and global democratic institutions to identify and resolve big challenges. Increasing numbers of resentful citizens in democracies have fallen prey to leaders who talk tough and blame elites, and too many voters rely on misleading reports and promises of quick fixes “The success of any modern democratic state or system requires a fine balance between the popular mandate given to a leader and the rule of law that prevails in the state,” argues Joanna Korey. The leaders who capture majority support if only for a short while claim to have a mandate to upend systems and laws. “Naturally, such populists and their supporters must oppose all outside influences and forces of globalization – namely, an interconnected and fluid international system, a process that has not benefited the working class as much as elite insider groups,” she concludes. “Without active and educated voters, an inclusive political culture, accountability and transparency democracy may not survive in the coming years, and no viable alternative seems ready to take its place.” [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Europe Needs to Take Heed and Reform in Wake of Italy, Austria Outcomes

Europe Needs to Take Heed and Reform in Wake of Italy, Austria Outcomes. Brookings Institution. Theodore Pelagidis. December 6, 2016

The “no vote” victory rejecting Italy’s constitutional referendum is widely interpreted as a clear win for anti-globalization populist forces in Europe. Even the defeat of Austria’s anti-immigrant populist Norbert Hofer last Sunday in the presidential elections, with just a 53-47 percentage, is seen in the same vein, as the extreme-right candidate’s loss was slim. Forces from the political edges are gaining ground in the post-truth era and many pundits think the path of global integration has stalled. The author sees it differently. The schism of societies currently underway, even in the prosperous western democracies, is more of a globalization victory than a defeat. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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