Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Everywhere, There Is a Growing Backlash to Populism
By admin
Published 5 years ago on
December 21, 2018

Share

NEW YORK — Emmanuel Macron has been the great hope for those who worry that global politics is being dominated by populism, nationalism, and racism. In his presidential campaign last year, Macron was able to rally France around a message of reform and multilateralism, staying firmly wedded to the European Union and other international alliances and institutions. Last month he brought together 65 world leaders for a major gathering dedicated to global governance.

portrait of fareed zakaria
Opinion
Fareed Zakaria
Now Macron has been humbled by the “yellow vest” street protests. He was forced to backtrack on some of his reforms and adopt new budget-busting subsidies in an attempt to mollify the mob. And there is the mess in Britain as it keeps trying (and failing) to Brexit; Italy’s budgetary woes; and the embrace of illiberal democracy in Hungary and Poland. It all adds up to a depressing picture of Europe and the West.

Pushback Against Populism

But are things really so gloomy? As Politico’s Matthew Karnitschnig points out, support for the EU is at its highest in decades. And on closer examination, while the forces of populism continue to surge in some places, the story of the last few months has mostly been one of pushback. Consider Poland and Hungary, in many ways the poster children for the populist-nationalist movement. In Poland, efforts to reshape the country’s Supreme Court ignited massive national protests, and Europe’s high court ordered that the move be reversed. On Monday, Warsaw complied.
In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s latest authoritarian steps — changing labor law and judicial authority — have also triggered widespread protests, uniting the nation’s opposition forces as never before. The street rebellion has the feel of a generalized opposition to the ruling party, which has predictably used tear gas on the mostly peaceful protesters, decried them as anti-Christian and accused George Soros of organizing the whole affair.

French Voters Prefer Macron Over Le Pen

In France, news of Macron’s demise is premature. Yes, his poll numbers are way down, but voters still prefer him to the far-right Marine Le Pen by a wide margin. He has a five-year term, his party controls the legislature, and most analysts agree that his reforms are inevitable if France is to compete for investment and generate growth. He may end up a one-term president, but he will still have spearheaded the most important changes in France in a generation.

For two years Republicans have ruled Washington, giving them control over all information from government sources and all powers of subpoena and oversight. That ends Jan. 3, 2019.
In Italy, the new coalition government had introduced a populist budget that promised a universal basic income and early retirement, only to meet the steely opposition of the European Union. And it was the populists who blinked. This week, Rome retreated from those populist measures and announced a budget conforming to the guidelines set by Brussels. It feels like a flashback to 2015, when Greek populists were compelled to enact the very program they campaigned against.
Britain remains more complicated, but the basic story is that every time the country comes close to actual Brexit, it pulls back, appalled by the costs. Prime Minister Theresa May has tried to do a soft Brexit, and while the compromise has earned her the scorn of the hardline Brexiteers, they cannot topple her. Perhaps they don’t want to because then they would be saddled with May’s impossible task. Proponents of Brexit sold the country a fantasy that it could get the benefits of access to the European Union’s market without the costs of having to obey its rules. As time passes, more and more Britons are coming to realize that they cannot have their cake and eat it, too.

GOP Control of US Ends Jan. 3

And finally, look at the United States, where a president who proudly embraces populism and nationalism reigns. In November, the Democratic Party had its strongest gains in the House of Representatives since the Watergate wave of 1974. President Donald Trump has faced additional resignations from important members of his administration — some under ethical clouds, others tired of the chaos. Most significant, there are now 17 separate investigations into Trump and his associates, some of which have already produced indictments. And that does not include the series of congressional inquiries certain to begin once the Democrats take control of key committees in the House. For two years Republicans have ruled Washington, giving them control over all information from government sources and all powers of subpoena and oversight. That ends Jan. 3, 2019.
I don’t mean to minimize the populist wave that is still coursing through the West and other parts of the world. But concern should not give way to despair. There are many people in every country who oppose the politics of anger and identity. They are also strong. They need to run fast but not run scared.
About the Author
Fareed Zakaria writes a foreign affairs column for The Post. He is also the host of CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS and a contributing editor for the Atlantic. His email address is comments@fareedzakaria.com.

DON'T MISS

Biden is Off on Details of His Uncle’s WWII Death as He Calls Trump Unfit to Lead the Military

DON'T MISS

Big Names in Rap, Christian Music, and Comedy Headline Must-See Weekend Entertainment

DON'T MISS

US and UK Issue New Sanctions on Iran in Response to Tehran’s Weekend Attack on Israel

DON'T MISS

Will State AG Rob Bonta Jump Into 2026 Race for CA Governor?

DON'T MISS

Biden Scores Endorsements from Kennedy Family, Looking to Shore Up Support Against Trump and RFK Jr.

DON'T MISS

CJ Abrams’ Leadoff Homer Lifts Nationals Over Dodgers 2-0

DON'T MISS

See the Fully Equipped House Homeless People Built on LA Freeway Strip

DON'T MISS

Juror Dismissed From Trump Hush Money Trial. Prosecutors Seek to Hold Former President in Contempt

DON'T MISS

Keaton Winn Throws Six Solid Innings as Giants Take Series From Marlins

DON'T MISS

Attorney Suing Fresno Grizzlies for $5 Million Is No Stranger to ‘Ladies Night’ Cases

UP NEXT

Big Names in Rap, Christian Music, and Comedy Headline Must-See Weekend Entertainment

UP NEXT

US and UK Issue New Sanctions on Iran in Response to Tehran’s Weekend Attack on Israel

UP NEXT

Will State AG Rob Bonta Jump Into 2026 Race for CA Governor?

UP NEXT

Biden Scores Endorsements from Kennedy Family, Looking to Shore Up Support Against Trump and RFK Jr.

UP NEXT

See the Fully Equipped House Homeless People Built on LA Freeway Strip

UP NEXT

Juror Dismissed From Trump Hush Money Trial. Prosecutors Seek to Hold Former President in Contempt

UP NEXT

Attorney Suing Fresno Grizzlies for $5 Million Is No Stranger to ‘Ladies Night’ Cases

UP NEXT

Hagrid Has a Bit of a Playful Side, but the Heart of a Giant. And He’s Ready for Adoption

UP NEXT

Biden Backs House’s Aid Package for Ukraine, Israel While Speaker Johnson Battles to Retain Position

UP NEXT

Hot Rod Willys: Driven to Bake the Perfect Chicago-Style Pizza

Will State AG Rob Bonta Jump Into 2026 Race for CA Governor?

55 mins ago

Biden Scores Endorsements from Kennedy Family, Looking to Shore Up Support Against Trump and RFK Jr.

1 hour ago

CJ Abrams’ Leadoff Homer Lifts Nationals Over Dodgers 2-0

Sports /

1 hour ago

See the Fully Equipped House Homeless People Built on LA Freeway Strip

1 hour ago

Juror Dismissed From Trump Hush Money Trial. Prosecutors Seek to Hold Former President in Contempt

2 hours ago

Keaton Winn Throws Six Solid Innings as Giants Take Series From Marlins

2 hours ago

Attorney Suing Fresno Grizzlies for $5 Million Is No Stranger to ‘Ladies Night’ Cases

2 hours ago

Hagrid Has a Bit of a Playful Side, but the Heart of a Giant. And He’s Ready for Adoption

Animals /

6 hours ago

Biden Backs House’s Aid Package for Ukraine, Israel While Speaker Johnson Battles to Retain Position

19 hours ago

Hot Rod Willys: Driven to Bake the Perfect Chicago-Style Pizza

19 hours ago

Biden is Off on Details of His Uncle’s WWII Death as He Calls Trump Unfit to Lead the Military

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Wednesday misstated key details about his uncle’s death in World War II as he honored the man’s wa...

35 mins ago

35 mins ago

Biden is Off on Details of His Uncle’s WWII Death as He Calls Trump Unfit to Lead the Military

40 mins ago

Big Names in Rap, Christian Music, and Comedy Headline Must-See Weekend Entertainment

46 mins ago

US and UK Issue New Sanctions on Iran in Response to Tehran’s Weekend Attack on Israel

55 mins ago

Will State AG Rob Bonta Jump Into 2026 Race for CA Governor?

1 hour ago

Biden Scores Endorsements from Kennedy Family, Looking to Shore Up Support Against Trump and RFK Jr.

Sports /
1 hour ago

CJ Abrams’ Leadoff Homer Lifts Nationals Over Dodgers 2-0

1 hour ago

See the Fully Equipped House Homeless People Built on LA Freeway Strip

2 hours ago

Juror Dismissed From Trump Hush Money Trial. Prosecutors Seek to Hold Former President in Contempt

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend