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Political Science professor Matthew Goodwin from the University of Kent discusses the recent power struggle between populists and establishments in both the US and the UK ahead of their major elections. Goodwin suggests that both in the US and UK, the establishment responses to populism are ineffective: they are too judicial to address this issue ideologically.
Inequality and overzealous social liberalism ideals are now making nationalist populism narratives increasingly poignant. Certain demographics (often blue-collar or conservative voters) believe their socioeconomic and cultural interests are at stake and blame the current system for it. Goodwin also argues that ‘cultural insecurity’ is the fundamental cause of European populist movements. Finally, he questions whether Lib Dems will overtake Labour as the number 2 party, given Labour’s struggle to have a clear Brexit stance. The UK might be heading to a new, 4-party system.
Why does this matter? While populist movements in the western world have grown increasingly influential over the past few years, note that the ‘faces’ of these movements – be it Donald Trump or Boris Johnson – will need to rely heavily on the establishments when it comes to execution. Aside from radical trade and immigration policies, western populist representatives still follow in the footsteps of traditional conservatives in areas such as public expenditure policies. However, we should ultimately stay cautious and closely monitor how populist movement progresses among voters: politics is never a zero-sum game.