The growth of populist sentiment in Europe could prove a turning point in the political history, in order to save democracy need bold solutions, said in a report on Wednesday, the experts of the World Economic Forum on global risks in 2017 year.
The document notes that the recent rise in popularity among populist parties and movements in many Western countries is an ongoing trend with a long history. Common to such parties and movements, regardless of whether they represent the right or left political wing, are appeals to national sovereignty and criticism of the ruling elites in that they did not protect the electorate from the negative effects of globalization. These topics turned out to be important components of victorious campaigns in the UK during the Brexit voting and in the US during the presidential election.
The authors of the report note that such calls resonate best in Europe, as the problems in the EU and the Eurozone create fertile ground for the growth of populist sentiments and the desire to return to national sovereignty. According to research, support for extreme right-wing parties has grown in the four largest European countries - Germany, Britain, France and Italy. However, Austria, Belgium, Hungary, Greece, Holland, Denmark, Poland, Sweden and Switzerland are not far behind. In Spain and Ireland, these sentiments have led to the fragmentation of forces in the parliaments of countries, which makes it difficult to make effective decisions and prevents the formation of sustainable governments. At the same time, there are evidences that young citizens stop believing in democratic principles and begin to consider other political alternatives.
The authors of the document called the main reasons for the undermining of democratic principles three factors: rapid economic and technological changes, further stratification of the population in social and cultural directions, and the appearance of so-called "post-truth" - circumstances when objective facts less influence the formation of public opinion than an appeal to emotions and personal faith. The last factor is due to the fact that recently there is very little media that causes trust in readers, and social media provides them with exactly the content that they want to see, forming an audience that supports only a certain point of view.
According to the research, for the successful preservation of democracy, Western politicians need to involve more people in the economy, creating new well-paid jobs, to learn how to make changes, who want to see the voters, while reforming the institutions of government so that it was not necessary to change the government. It is also important to reconcile the growing nationalism in a society with ideas of multiculturalism.
The report at the same time do not give clear guidance on how it should be the country to conduct its policies in order to achieve these goals, and noted that the issues of "health democracy and the challenges of cultural polarization and economic division, have no direct answers." At the same time it emphasizes that the current trend towards intensification of populist sentiment "may be a turning point in the political history" and therefore requires a fresh and bold ideas.