Trump’s loss dealt a blow to global populism. But the movement is still alive and kicking.
Donald Trump election defeat was a natural blow to populist leaders, especially those who were complicit in Trump’s dictatorship. Many have used the president’s anti-immigrant, phobic, sexual and anti-LGBTQ policies and rhetoric to justify themselves. That cover is now gone.
For four years, Donald Trump has been the world standard-bearer for right-wing populism. The campaign did not start with Donald Trump, but the U.S. president won it in a way no other leader could. Using the weight of the most powerful office on earth, it gave legitimacy.
But that does not mean that the wave of populism has reached – not mainly in the United States or in the world.
President-elect Joe Biden won the College of Elections and the Square, but he did so by a narrow margin in a handful of central states. Donald Trump still holds more than 47% of the popular vote, with more than 73 million votes. The counter-results did not have a significant impact on the president’s separatist, populist leadership.
If support for populism in the United States has eroded, it has done so little, and many in the world can say the same.
The plague has not done much to stifle global populism. Donald Trump has almost certainly paid a political price – a poll exit poll found that a majority of voters (52%) consider the virus to be more important than rebuilding the economy (42%). But despite his response and more than 260,000 American deaths, he still won more than half of the country’s electorate.
In the early months of the epidemic, countries with strong democracies seemed far better off than countries with strong populist leaders. But as the epidemic spreads, that assumption is challenged.
Brazil and India, which have populist leaders like the United States, may suffer rising rates of infection and death, but Western Europe is also a stronghold of liberal democracy. Even Germany, which was previously celebrated as a model response to the virus, has found its vast hospital network as it struggles to prevent the virus.
Several authoritarian populists have seen their approved ratings plunge into the middle of the epidemic, but many have recovered quickly.
In Brazil – while seemingly responding to the virus in the same way as the United States, recent elections show that President Jor Bolsonaro has received the highest endorsements during his tenure. State payments to Brazilians who have lost their jobs or income will be partially paid, and the scheme may end soon. Bolzoni speaks of the confidence Brazilians have in him that he has so politically survived his chaotic epidemic response.
It is the only story in Russia. President Vladimir Putin’s approval rating fell to a historic low of 59% in May, and the country is struggling with rising Coronavirus infections, according to polls at the Levada Center. But it was short-lived. Russia is battling the second wave of the Kovid-19 challenge, and Putin has risen to 69% over the past two years.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also survived the epidemic. His popularity skyrocketed in the beginning, and although it dropped by more than 50% during the spring and summer seasons, it has since recovered and is at a higher level than in recent years, according to a Metropol survey. Despite the increase in cases in that country.
The populist leaders in Asia are also showing little sign of fading. In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a right-wing Hindu nationalist organization, and its allies won the first Kovid-era election in Bihar earlier this month. . Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s popularity rose to record highs last month.
Some leaders in Central Europe seem to be doubling their divisive policies. Poland’s ruling law and justice (PiS) party is seeking a stricter rule on abortion, which has met with widespread opposition. In Hungary, Prime Minister Victor Orban recently proposed changing the electoral law to tighten his grip on the country. Where his party already has an overwhelming majority in parliament. He also seeks to include legal interpretations of gender.
Even in some countries where populist leaders are not in power, the business is thriving. According to a recent French public opinion poll, if France had held an election in October, Marine Le Pen would have received the same number of votes as French President Emmanuel Macron in the first round of the far-right national rally.
“People’s movements come from long-term cultural shifts, so you would not expect Trump’s loss as its global leader to tarnish the brand’s image,” said Pippa Norris, a Kennedy government official at Harvard University.
Norris said several significant events, such as the financial crisis of 2007-08 and the migration of refugees to Europe in 2015, had triggered the current wave of populism, pushing several anti-immigrant populist parties into parliamentary chambers across the region.
“Then we had Brexit in mid-2016. If it hadn’t been for the refugee crisis, I do think the results could have gone the other way,” she said.
“But we should remember that Trump was both a consequence and a cause of the changes around that time. In Europe, autocratic populism was already rising.”
As Norris points out, populism thrives in times of crisis, especially in economic terms.
The International Monetary Fund proposes to shrink the world economy by 4.4% by 2020. After the devastating financial crisis that caused global unemployment to rise to 212 million, it is far worse than the 1% drop in 2009. The crisis has set in.
However, the plague proves to be an unexpected force. Some of the leaders who have been most successful in their responses have been instrumental in their popularity – for example, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacques Ardern and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. But Bolzoni, Putin and Erdogan both enjoy the same booty.
It may be more useful to focus on Biden’s victory in Europe than on Trump’s defeat. Daphne Helicopoulo, of the University of Reading in England, said the U.S. election, which had largely failed to respond to the 2007-08 financial crisis, could be revived as a “bursting” left and centre-left as a result.
“If Donald Trump had won, there would have been jubilation [among far-right populists], because they could have said, ‘Look, our ideas are mainstream,'” Halikiopoulou said.
“But one signal to take from the U.S. election is that the left can find it again … find an electorally successful recipe.”
In Brazil, the current municipal elections can provide an insight into how long Brazilians need to keep populist leaders in power. But their real record is that in 2022, Bolzoni will likely appear for another term.
“Bolsonaro appears to be visibly upset at what has happened in the U.S. because it raises the spectre of his potential electoral failing in his bid for reelection in two years,” said Mark Langevin, director of the consultancy BrazilWorks.
But Bolsanaro already seems to be learning. Langwin observes that he is reducing public appreciation of Trump and seeking advice from his team not to be more aggressive than his American counterpart.
“The minister for communications, Fábio Faria, has convinced Bolsonaro to limit his communications with the press, and travel around Brazil and parade himself with his groupies in all sorts of destinations around Brazil, where he doesn’t say anything but is seen eating a pastel [pastry] with local politicians. And that’s been working great for him. Brazilians love that stuff.”
The year 2022 will be the real parameter of populism, not only in Brazil but also in countries like France, where the presidential election could be another contest between the central Macron and the far-right populist Le Pen or Hungary to decide whether to continue.,To try Orban’s populist, anti-immigrant and Euroscopic path or something.
But the U.S. will be one of the biggest to watch again. Unable to abandon the populist Trumpism that gave new life to their party, Americans will receive their statements in the midterm elections, where they will strengthen their support for Biden, or hand over more power to Republicans.