World Wide (Conversation) – Democracies in the world are being rocked by a new wave of populism. Many scholars correctly analyse the flaws in populist discourse and practices. Populist politicians stoke fears and hate, exacerbate divisions and stereotypes, and distort…
World (Sputnik) – Introducing the ancient Athenian principle of drawing by lot is the solution to growing discontentment with modern politics, according to Belgian political theorist David Van Reybrouck. The system of modern democracy in which members of parliament are elected by the public doesn’t…
On July 23, 2016, Tobias Stone wrote a great article explaining how the victory for the Leave camp in the Brexit referendum could embolden the far-right in America and beyond and lead to a wave of far-right populism. Fast forward six months, and many of Stone’s predictions have come true. Trump has been elected to the American presidency and far-right candidates like Marine Le Penn, Geert Wilders, and Frauke Petry are posing serious threats to establishment candidates throughout Europe. In addition, there has been a major resurgence of racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and neo-Nazism in America. In response to this, the left has prepared for a political battle to stop the spread of far-right populism.
Stone, however, argues that those who oppose right-wing populism are fundamentally unprepared to combat it. He chillingly states:
“What can we do? Well, again, looking back, probably not much. The liberal intellectuals are always in the minority…The people who see that open societies, being nice to other people, not being racist, not fighting wars, is a better way to live, they generally end up losing these fights. They don’t fight dirty. They are terrible at appealing to the populace.”
Unfortunately, historical events like the rise of the Third Reich and the Rwandan Genocide, help to support Stone’s claim. This leaves many of us wondering what we can do to stem the rise of far-right populism.
The “Red Shirts” movement has caused large-scale political instability, but it has brought to the fore critical questions about the road to Thai democratization.
For some years now Thailand has been undergoing a colossal political crisis, resulting in the 2014 coup d’état, the second military coup in the past 8 years. This was triggered by the rise of populist Thaksin Shinawatra within Thai politics. Fear of his powers mobilized the middle-class, elites and military against Thaksin. Specifically, two military coups were aimed at putting an end to “Thaksin’s party”, but both failed to achieve their goal. Thai society continues to be divided, and the pro-Thaksin movement (Red Shirts) retains its strength.
Thailand’s dictatorial regime recently held a referendum on a new constitution, aimed at reasserting control over Thai politics. Thai people voted in favor of the new constitution believing that it might restore stability. However this seems far from likely while Thailand’s political processes continue to be controlled by the military. More likely, the junta’s voting system in the next elections will produce a weak coalition administration and a Senate appointed by the army.