Emergence of Populism in Europe's Context

Updated: Apr 4, 2020

Written by Navya Jaiswal

In Political Science, Populism is the idea that society is separated into two groups at odds with one another- “the pure people” and “the corrupt elite”. A true populist leader claims to represent the unified “will of the people”.

Populist parties can be anywhere on the political spectrum; in Venezuela, President Maduro; in Spain, The Podemos Party are left-wing populist parties.

But, the most impeccable and far-reaching populists today are on the right, particularly the radical right or the far-right as we call it.

Now, discussing the last week’s mass unrest in Budapest, Hungary against what has been popularly termed as “slavery labor laws”. Victor Orban, the leader of the right-wing political party became the Prime Minister for the first time in 1988. The anti-immigration stance advocated by the party’s manifesto had already lead to an outbreak of dissent protests on the behalf of the citizens in the past; the recent suppressive labour reform which legalizes the extent of overtime work to upto 400 hours per year has led to mass protests, further changes in the labour court, introduction of internet tax in 2015 and further restructuring of democratic institutions, led to a long list of violations by the EU, having invoked disciplinary actions with regards to EU laws has also caused vast waves of collective social turmoil.

Italy’s populist Five Star Movement and the anti-immigration League Party emerged as two major contenders in the latest elections, the most recent of several results in Europe. Italy’s populist government had agreed to set the budget deficit at 2.4% of its GDP for 2019, as prompted by the technocrat Finance Minister of the League and Five Star Movement. This budget decision prompted strong criticism from EU Economic Commissioner saying that Italy has been flouting rules and not reducing debts, which is strictly against European limits.

Having established an accelerated emergence of populist parties within the EU, the European Central Bank warned about weak profitability expectations and that the political risks have increased across the euro area and pose a challenge to fiscal and structural reform implementation thereby relaying the rise of populist parties across Europe has made the implementation of economic reforms less certain.

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