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The Rise of Populism in Global Politics: A Threat Analysis

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Exploring the surge of far-right populism in international politics today.

description: an anonymous photo of a crowd waving flags and banners at a political rally, symbolizing the support for populist ideologies.

A specter is haunting Europe–the specter of populism. Populist movements, particularly those associated with the radical right, have surged across the globe in recent years. From the storming of the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, to the similar uprising in Brazil in 2023, far-right politicians are infringing on democratic norms and fueling divisions within societies.

The 2016 referendum on Britain's exit (Brexit) from the European Union is often viewed as the major populist moment in recent British politics. This event demonstrated the power of populist rhetoric in mobilizing support and driving political change.

There's a widespread view that populism is on the rise, from the United States and Turkey to India and Hungary. What is fueling this global trend towards populism? Economic insecurity, social inequality, and a sense of disillusionment with traditional political institutions are contributing factors.

Populist, far-right politicians have not only made gains in France but are becoming a stronger threat across Europe and in the United States. These leaders often tap into nationalist sentiments, anti-immigrant rhetoric, and promises of economic protectionism to appeal to disaffected voters.

The rise of an unusually tame right-wing populist reveals how Canadian democracy stays strong — and why the world should take notes from their political resilience. Canada's ability to resist the allure of extreme populism highlights the importance of strong democratic institutions and a commitment to inclusive governance.

In an interview, writer Thomas Frank discusses how populism has brought together workers, farmers, and all those struggling against the wealthy elite. Populist movements often capitalize on class grievances and portray themselves as champions of the common people against entrenched elites.

Economic insecurity is one factor that drives populism, as a former politician from Hungary writes. The promise of economic protectionism, job security, and social welfare can be powerful tools in the hands of populist leaders seeking to rally support among marginalized communities.

HKS Professor Robert Z. Lawrence and Harvard Professor Dustin Tingley say better economic policies can boost clean energy projects in developing countries. By addressing economic inequalities and promoting sustainable development, policymakers can help mitigate the appeal of populist movements that thrive on discontent and division.

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