In a flurry of elections, some of the world’s major democracies have been leaning toward or outright embracing far-right authoritarian leaders, who have echoed one another by promising to crack down on loose morals, open borders and power-hungry elites.
Voters in Italy last month elected a nationalist leader whose party proposes a U-turn from the effects of globalization. In Brazil, right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro injected doubt into the results of his reelection bid by speculating that the vote would be rigged against him in a conspiracy driven by the country’s elites. In the Philippines this year, voters chose the son of their former dictator Ferdinand Marcos as president, electing to stick with strongman politics.
Though hardly a champion of democracy, Russian President Vladimir Putin late last month delivered an address that would sound familiar — and, to many people, attractive — in democracies from the United States to much of Europe. Putin railed against expansive definitions of gender, calling the idea a “perversion,” part of a “complete denial of man [and an] overthrow of faith and traditional values” by “Western elites.”
“The world has entered a period of revolutionary transformations,” which Russia aims to resist, Putin said in a speech that echoed the rhetoric of Russia-friendly right-wing politicians in many democracies.
In the United States, former president Donald Trump has presumptively rejected future election results, and a majority of Republican candidates on the ballot this fall for major state and federal elective offices have joined him in repudiating the outcome of the 2020 presidential election — an epidemic of election denialism in the United States that historians and political scientists define as a core element in any country’s drift toward authoritarian rule. [Continue reading…]