Voters Around the World Are Cooling on Populists, Gravitating Toward Technocrats

Signs are beginning to show that the populist wave which swept the globe in recent years is reversing.However, don’t assume that good things will replace it.

The faith in “populist”, illiberal strongmen is possibly declining. However, this is not the end. doesn’tThis is reflected in a rising respect for liberal democracy.  Support for democracy has been declining in many countries. Particularly in America, the decline of faith in democracy was evident. The share of those who believe that democracy is bad for governance increased from 10.5 to 24.8 percent between 2019 and 2021.

The findings are based on a massive study of attitudes and political behavior worldwide. Researchers from the University of Cambridge’s Centre for the Future of Democracy discovered that public opinion about populist politics had changed since the second quarter of 2020, based on survey data taken in 169 countries. Between then and 2021, populist leaders worldwide lost on average 10 percentage points of popularity. Robert Foa, the lead researcher of the study said that there is ample evidence to suggest that populism has been severely hampered by the pandemic.

Populism—”a political approach that strives to appeal to ordinary people who feel that their concerns are disregarded by established elite groups,” according to the Oxford English Dictionary—sounds pretty good on the surface. In practice it means many authoritarian and redistributionist ideas as well as nativist views, which have been embraced by parties and candidates who disdain liberal democratic values. Recent years have seen the use of this term. Populism has been used—not always, but often—almost synonymously with nationalism.

“From [Recep Tayyip]Erdogan [Jair]Foa said Bolsonaro was to Eastern Europe’s’strong men’, and that there has been a wave in populism.” The wave could have been caused by Covid-19.

This is good news for classical liberals. The study is bad news overall for liberal democracies. It also revealed evidence of increasing trust in technocratic governments replacing this kind of populism.

In the U.S., 8 and 14 percentage points respectively rose for the belief that experts must make country-specific decisions. In almost all countries studied, however, the majority of respondents were less inclined to believe that “willingness” must be respected.

Unfortunately, this seems too extreme to assume that difficult times would lead to the rejection of both authoritarian powerfulmen Trust-the-experts faith style in main stream politicians

The approval ratings for main stream politicians have fared better over the period of the pandemic than those for populist leaders or parties.

The researcher speculated several reasons why populist movements have faltered—not all of them reassuring. COVID-19, which induced trade and immigration restrictions in the United States, is one explanation. This was one reason why populist parties and politicians have failed to realize their stated goals.

The study also revealed that there are new opportunities for illiberalism and frolic, which is a scary result. In one example, a large proportion of the respondents from a variety of countries believed that certain types of internet discussions about COVID-19 ought to be prohibited. Over 25% supported the U.S. policies to stop online gossip about the virus.

Overall, however, the support for liberalism appears to be declining. According to the Cambridge Report, it is a disturbing erosion in support for core democratic beliefs.

In democracies the level of support for democracy has dropped to its lowest in 26-years.

This decline is most evident among younger people. “Younger survey respondents are disproportionately responsible for the illiberal value shift—with a much larger change among respondents aged below 35 than those aged 55 and above,” notes the Cambridge report:

Although the “values gap” between the generations was growing very slowly during the decades preceding the pandemics, the 18-35 year olds have said that they would prefer a strong leader that doesn’t need to deal with elections or parliament, and that the country should be run by a democracy.

Surprisingly, there are countries that There are other countries than the U.S. COVID times has seen an increase in the number of people coming together. Most democracies have a high proportion of citizens who claim theyStrongly dislikeThe number of people who voted for politicians and parties opposed to them was lower. But in the U.S.—where the highest percentage of respondents were likely to say this anyway—the needle has barely moved.

The full report is available here, and it provides a lot of detail on the findings.



Continue to wage the “antitrust” war against free markets.A key goal of Democratic lawmakers has been to block more business mergers. Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice are asking public input about ways they can modernize federal merger guidelines. This will help to prevent and detect illegal, anticompetitive, deals on modern markets. Antitrust laws allow the FTC or DOJ to stop any mergers which substantially reduce competition in an industry, or establish a monopoly. Many members of Congress, as well as the Biden Administration have been pushing for “modernization” to merger guidelines in order that illegally anticompetitive moves will not be allowed. This means that merging businesses will have to show that they are not anticompetitive. Instead of the government proving it, they can do so.


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