The revolt against populism

The populist backlash came in different forms in different parts of the world. In Central and Eastern Europe it came in the form of nationalist strongmen — Victor Orban, Vladimir Putin, the Law and Justice party in Poland. In Latin America it came in the form of the Pink Tide — a group of left-wing economic populists like Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro. In the Anglosphere it was white ethnic nationalism of Donald Trump and Brexit. In the Middle East it was Muslim fundamentalism. In China it was the increasing authoritarianism of Xi Jinping. In India it was the Hindu nationalism of Narendra Modi.

In places, the populist wave is still rising. The Yellow Vests in France and the protests in Chile are led by those who feel economically left behind. But it’s also clear that when in power the populists can’t deliver goods. So now in many places we’re seeing a revolt against the revolt, urban middle-class uprisings against the populists themselves.

The core problem is economic. Populist economic policies of left and right destroy growth. Venezuela is an economic disaster. In Mexico the left-wing populist policies of Andrés Manuel López Obrador have brought growth to a halt. The International Monetary Fund projects Latin American growth could fall to 0.2 percent.