Populism Takes A Heavy Toll

Donald Trump US presidentDonald Trump

Everywhere in the Western world, the political debate becomes increasingly toxic. Just attend a Donald Trump meeting to get acquainted with politics grounded on ludicrous nonsense and scornfully abusive remarks towards women, migrants and Muslims. Not to mention how shamefully he upgrades the Ku Klux Klan, portraying it as a respectful club. Such a revolting credo is by no means just a mere farce, nor are his threats delivered in jest. Neither do his followers rank as a bunch of jokers. Mr Trump is indeed enjoying widespread support from self-described decent citizens. He will probably snatch nomination for the White House race and has a chance of becoming President of the United States.

Such a dismal prospect roots itself in a chain of misfortunes. While the US economy shows on the whole promising symptoms, the latest crisis has fuelled angry sentiments among middle classes and blue-collars, targeting their frustration against free trade and foreign workers. The increasingly retrograde ideology amongst Republicans, following the Tea Party take-over, is also much to blame for the crude populism Mr Trump embodies. In a way, US voters will benefit from a privileged view of the awesome dangers backbone conservatism represents. An appraisal that other equally extremist candidates would have failed to deliver with such harsh honesty and disarming frankness.

The overall picture in Europe doesn’t look brighter. Some eastern countries are openly drifting away from democratic standards. The close to fascist National Front is pushing the centre-right parties in France to embrace the banner of intolerance. In a desperate attempt to cut the grass under UKIP’s feet, PM Cameron has launched a referendum likely to isolate Britain extramuros. All in all, racist, radical or utterly simplistic views are brushing away the broad consensus on our socially oriented market model.

The lessons of the 1930s have not precluded Europe from becoming prey to irrational fears and rampant nationalism. The rush to close the frontiers for refugees is a prime example of collective cynism and clumsy management of this breath-taking humanitarian crisis. Let’s cross our fingers and pray for a prompt and sound economic recovery, which will bring jobs and welfare back. Otherwise, we might witness the ugliest face of extreme ideologies as they wreak havoc on the values we thought were solidly anchored in our Continent.


About the Author

JP Marin Arrese
Juan Pedro Marín Arrese is a Madrid-based economic analyst and observer. He regularly publishes articles in the Spanish leading financial newspaper 'Expansión'.