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France election: Populism vs liberalism

In advance democracies, political parties are formed based on ideology not ethnicity or region. Elections are won and lost based on political ideology. Europe and…

In advance democracies, political parties are formed based on ideology not ethnicity or region. Elections are won and lost based on political ideology. Europe and American were hitherto the champions of Liberalism as a political ideology, but the recent Brit-exit and the victory of President Donald Trump in the United States are evidences for the rise of populism as a rising new political ideology in Europe and America. Is liberalism on decline? Is populism going to gain acceptance in Europe and America? 

POPULISM IDEOLOGY: Populism is a political doctrine that proposes that the common people are exploited by privileged elite, and which seeks to resolve this. The underlying ideology of populists can be left, right, or center. It is guided by the belief that political and social goals are best achieved by the direct actions of the masses. However, the populists supporters are anti-immigrants, anti-European Union, economically nationalistic, racists, Islamo-phobists, protectionist trade policies, anti-globalization, anti- free trade and fully anti-establishment.

LIBERALISM IDEOLOGY: Liberalism is a political philosophy or worldview founded on ideas of liberty and equality. Liberalists generally support ideas and programmes such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press , freedom of religion, free markets, civil rights , democratic societies, secular governments, gender equality, and international cooperation and globalization.

The battle line has already been drawn between Pro- Populism and Pro-Liberalism supporters. Ms. Le Pen has threatened to exit France from Eurozone while Mr. Emmanuel Macron maintained that France will remain in Eurozone under his watch. Who wins between is only time shall tell!

In after the first round election in April 23, 2017 two candidates out the 11 that contested emerged first and second. Mr. Macron who is Pro-liberalism emerged first with 23.75% while Ms. Le Pen who is Pro-Populism became second with 21.30% of the vote in the election. Mr. Macron is 39 and Ms. Le Pen 48. More so, none of the candidates get the constitutional required percentage to win the election in first round. The two candidates will slug it out in the runoff election to be held on May 7, 2017.

Political alliances will certainly decide who will win the runoff election. Liberalism has been the main political ideology of Europe and United States of America but the recent sentiment in America and Europe is anti-Liberalism. President Donald Trump represents a populist’s political ideology. The victory of those who demanded for the exit of UK from EU again David Cameroon and co.’s represent a populists ideology. Populism is on the increasing in Europe.

The emergence of more populists’ supporters in Europe and America is a product of increasing socio-economic concerns in Europe and America. No country is immune from economic challenges. Populists’ supporters are anti-immigrants whom they believe are overstretching their limited available resources. They equally argue that they are causing more social problems in Europe and America. Populists supporters in UK on the other hand believe that with UK exiting EU there will be more resources for UK citizens. They further argue that UK’s EU membership makes them share resources with 27 other countries. It was argued by Pro-Brexit that citizens from other countries are overstretching their scarce resources. The populists’ supporters in US believe immigrants from Mexico are causing more social problems in US.

However, the lesson to learn by Nigerians if any is that politics in Europe and America is ideologically based. Political parties support in election is determined by the political ideology being canvassed by the candidates not their ethnic or regional origin. Economic challenges are not only restricted to the developing countries. No country is immune from one challenge or the other. Struggle for better life is everywhere from developed through the developing to the underdeveloped countries. The welfare of the people is also very critical.


Nurudeen Dauda, Kaduna, [email protected] 

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