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Why Does Populism Succeed?

Updated on November 6, 2019

Where Should We Start?

More recently, there is much talk about populism in the media. Shortly, important elections will be held in the United States. In many other countries, elections are also held or have been held this year, in some European countries as Slovakia, Austria, Portugal, Scotland, Serbia or Ireland. Between the political leaders, populist accusations don't lack. To better understand this phenomenon I have written this hub.

Now you will see some of the most famous populists, and for those who do not know what populism is, maybe now you will know.

Some of the most famous populist

Hugo Chavez (Venezuela)
Hugo Chavez (Venezuela) | Source
President Nicolas Maduro (Venezuela)
President Nicolas Maduro (Venezuela) | Source
President Alexis Tsipras (Greece)
President Alexis Tsipras (Greece) | Source

The list could go on and on. Because which politician is not populist?

Now we have to talk about what being populist is.


Whenever we will refer to populism in this Hub we will do so in a political context. Politicians try to reach the power as a seller you sell your product. However, politicians will use all possible mechanisms (even illegal) to achieve their goals.

The main features of populism are as follows:

For more details:

Strategy that consists in appeal to people on fears, prejudices and emotions to gain their support. Telling to the society what they want to hear, trying to reach everyone with the greatest media presence, even if his promises are contradictory or impossible.
Finding an enemy from which all evils proceed and channeling all the hate on that enemy, to be able to convey simple solutions to the problems of people, which basically attack and destroy the enemy.
An omnipotent State, with no limits to act so it can kill all society problems. Increase the state budget to get more power and achieve its goals much easier.
An ideological, strong, charismatic, witty, loquacious leader to represent the interests of the people

These are the key bases of populism to deceive people and get power.

Where does populism come from?

It is true that populism does not come out of anywhere, It does not exist in all political moment. Populism tries to give an easy response to social problems. In the event that there were no social problems, populism would not be necessary and therefore, would not exist. These problems have coincided in recent decades with deflation crises (a decrease in the overall price level of goods and services). The problems we encountered in the wake of the crisis are falling society rents, falling wages, mass unemployment, income decline, destruction and disappearance of some markets, loss of market share in many industries...
In a complicated situation after the crisis, the right way to go out is favoring a replacement, restructuring, redesign very deep and hard in the production model of society. In this political-economic context, populisms appear. They can distinguish two, right-wing populist and left-wing populism. Ignoring what seems right, populists do not choose this way to fix the economy.

Right-wing Populism

Right-wing populism concentrates all their problems in immigration. Revenues sink because outsiders are removing them. Immigrants come to sink wages and without immigrants, the people of the nation would live better having higher incomes.

The solution of these populists is to create nationalist conflicts when we live in an era of globalization and sooner or later there will be immigrants in all parts of the world. Instead of seeing society as an open, tolerant, free and cosmopolitan society towards any form of life and that interaction is allowed between any part of the planet. What they want is to put barriers to control them, destroying all kinds of freedom.

Ethnic Germans in Saaz, Czechoslovakia, greet German soldiers with the Nazi salute, 1938
Ethnic Germans in Saaz, Czechoslovakia, greet German soldiers with the Nazi salute, 1938 | Source

Real examples of Right-wing Populism

With today's globalization, these movements have become very strong. Some examples are French independentism (Front National), Donald Trump in the US, and more anti-immigration movements in Europe, popular in most countries of the continent because of refugees coming from Syria.

In the US in particular, it is believed that all the evils of society come from selling Chinese goods to the United States or Mexicans going to the United States to work. That is why Donald Trump argues that large national companies should not go to China, or that building a wall between the US and Mexico is the best choice to "Make America Great Again".

Some examples of right-wing populists

FN (France)
FN (France) | Source
American businessman, television personality, author, and politician, Donald Trump.
American businessman, television personality, author, and politician, Donald Trump. | Source
Golden Dawn members from Greece (Right-Wing party)
Golden Dawn members from Greece (Right-Wing party) | Source
Jobbik members from Hungary (Right-Wing party)
Jobbik members from Hungary (Right-Wing party) | Source

Videos about Extreme Right

Videos showing right-wing examples

Left-wing populism

The ideas of the two populists are similar, and means to convince are similar. However, the focus of these populists is on social inequalities, they try to explain the social problems with this thought. For this, they blame the rich. The concept is that if there are many rich people there are also many poor, and if there were no rich there would be no poor. Making people believe that the economy can only be spread and that can not grow. As a cake in which the rich are withholding all and the poor are left with nothing. Because of this, the hatred is shown toward investors, speculators, capitalists and rich people who "exploit people". With these ideas are able to catch, deceive and seduce the population and always it refers to communism when such ideals appear in political parties.

Real examples of Left-wing Populism

Some of the most famous examples would be Venezuela and Greece. In these two cases, populism has come to power.

In Venezuela, populism came since Hugo Chavez came to power. What he has done is to control and exploiting state oil for its own benefit. In order to stay in power, he bought the people that were necessary with the money earned. We all know that the current Venezuelan economy is in tatters because of his desire to control all areas of society, destroying the private sector. His successor in power, Nicolas Maduro, has not stopped this decline.

In Greece, the populists came to power, destroyed the economy leaving a huge debt. In order to be in the European Union, the party of Tsipras had to raise taxes and make cuts in the public sector despite its election promises, crashing with reality.

Some examples of left-wing populists

President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro
President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro | Source
Prime Minister of Greece Alexis Tsipras
Prime Minister of Greece Alexis Tsipras | Source
Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders | Source

Video about extreme left

Populism in US

Alternative to Populism

You might think that an alternative to populism would be an honest political party and not populist, a political party that does not deceive to get votes. But the truth is that in many European countries already exist these parties, and yet the popularity of populism continues to increase. Therefore, this is an unstable equilibrium, sooner or later populisms appear to try to solve the problems raised.

The right alternative would be to end any kind of populist thought, remember that populism does not have an ideology and that the only intention is to deceive the population, and thus eliminate populism does not deprive of any freedom.

Return the property to people

The first anti-populist alternative would be to have an open society where people would be the owner. We live in a society with a wide lower and middle class where families do not have significant properties and the State has (talking about developed countries). The main attraction of these classes to increase its equity is to take away properties to those who do have ownership, and for left-wing populism, this is a triumph. In order to fulfill it is alleged committed and since these classes are very large, the State would retain these properties for the whole population. This would be done by expropriating properties in the event that its properties are not enough.

The alternative is to create a broad ownership society in which each person owns their own destiny and have their own properties, your home, your savings, your actions in various companies in different countries, your investments in different global markets... Having capital in different countries generates a dependence on the outside. Therefore, the presence of a right-wing populist who wants to close the borders would be negligible and never would win an election, because closing the borders hurts all those investors and savers in foreign. It makes no sense that a left-wing populist wants to expropriate the property when people already own and they only will lose.

Some maps and graphs

Income in the US
Income in the US | Source
Taxation in the United States
Taxation in the United States | Source
Income tax in the United States
Income tax in the United States | Source
Map of world poverty by country
Map of world poverty by country | Source

Freedom to Choose

The fundamental idea that people have liberties against the state. Just as a person is free to practice a religion that wants irrespective of the state in which he is (in many countries is complicated, but it is a fundamental right). People should be free to pick and choose their own rules against those imposed by politicians. A populist or not populist majority does not have the right to choose over the minority. The simple fact that there is a mere democracy, does not legitimize any imposed action. Thus, populism can not sell their lies. A government formed by people can not decide how to live or how not to live, it should establish a minimum basis for stable and minimalist coexistence leaving people to interact with each other.

This is the real fight against populism, removing any possibility on which to act for any populist. Making clear that people before politicians and rulers.

Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty | Source

Feel free to comment whatever you want and give your opinion on the subject.



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