As seen in both the TRT World video, The Rise of Populism (2017) and The Economist video, Populism is Reshaping Our World (2017), populism is a worldwide political trend that emphasizes a shift away from globalism and the perceived elitist leaders that are viewed to have failed in their policies. Populism is seen in countries such as Italy, with the recent referendum, in England with Brexit, and in the United States with the election of Donald Trump.
What these populist movements have in common is that they tend to blame three specific conditions for the current disparity between elite and working classes: they blame what is referred to as the establishment, or the previous political class that has proven itself ineffective; they blame free trade, as there is the perception that other countries are a drain on national economies, as factories relocate overseas, taking jobs with them; and they blame migrants, who are seen as taking away jobs from domestic-born citizens. These conditions are what lead populists to believe creates economic stagnation. Previous leaders that have supported these policies are seen as being ineffective. Populists therefore seek change and run on a platform that relies on removing the current establishment.
Although populists tend to blame politicians who are increasingly being seen as out of touch and failing to address the financial concerns of the working class, they also tend to blame economic threats that may or may not be real. In Populism is Reshaping Out World, many populist leaders blame migrants who are seen as taking away jobs from citizens. However, as seen in the example of automated trucks, technology is the actual reason why jobs are becoming more scarce. With more technology that can save companies money, there is a need to higher less workers. However, the populist message tends to blame other factors, such as free trade policies and migrants, and in turn also blames the establishment politicians who support these sorts of policies.
The problem with populism is that it offers a lot of blame and criticism, but it does not always offer solutions other than change. Populists believe in changing away the old policies, and this is a platform they use when running for office, but often their ideas are based more on creating emotional responses. In The Rise of Populism, we see how those who vote for populist candidates tend to be older and less educated. However, the reason that many populist candidates are successful is because their platform for change at least tries to make an actual difference. The same politicians who were unable to fix the growing gap between rich and poor still have no real solutions to this problem. From a typical voter perspective, it makes sense to try something new when the old version has failed. Additionally, many establishment leaders are seen as out of touch with the average voter. They are seen as only supporting themselves, and are generally very wealthy. This makes them less relatable for the average voter, who may be struggling with making ends meet.
The main criticism that populism makes is that economic policies over the last ten years, since the 2008 recession, have failed. People do not see financial improvements, or improvements are very slow to achieve. This is more true in rural areas, where many voters do not even share the same cultural values as establishment politicians. Thus, this has become a worldwide trend where failures of the present are blamed on policies of the past that did not make a real difference in people’s lives. Populism is therefore mostly an economic platform, and although it does not quite offer real solutions, it at least makes a case for change.