The Rise of Populism in Europe

Dr. Reinhard Heinisch’s lecture on the rise of populism in Europe, highlighted the sources of populists movements and how it they differed from country to country. Conventional thought would have never predicted populist movements in prosperous western European countries such as Britain and Germany. Many scholars thought that populism was a rare phenomena that was evident in France and a few other eastern European countries. The recent wave of populism can be attributed to several issues, including Globalism. Especially in western Europe, citizens have not been able to feel the fruits of a global economy which in turn intensifies their resentment towards the current economic system.

Heinisch also described the common characteristics of populist movements which include appeals to the “common sense”, nativists movements, and a call for political and social reform. The refugee crisis that has become a continent wide issue, has helped fuel populist parties and their goals of reducing immigration. In France, a country that contains Europe’s largest muslim population, Marie Le Pen has gained remarkable momentum. Her success it reflected at many a French who believe that french culture and life is threatened by such an influx of foreigners.

The campaign techniques of these movements have been able to recruit followers. Heinisch displayed political ads/posters that attempt to send a message about social decay due to foreigners or national sovereignty due to globalization. These campaigns dog-whistle especially to young men who also make up these movements most staunch supporters. Regardless, of the sustainability of these movements, they will remain a political force to reckon with for the near future.

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