The number of populist leaders around the world has fallen to a 20-year low after a series of victories for progressives and centrists over the past year, according to analysis from the Tony Blair Institute showing the number of people living under populist rule has fallen by 800 million in two years.
The research claims 2023 could be an equally decisive year for populism, with critical elections in Turkey and Poland. Those two elections could see two of the most influential populist governments in the world fall, though that may yet require divided opposition parties in both countries to form clearer coalition programmes than they have managed so far.
Of the populists who lost power, Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro and Slovenia’s Janez Janša were defeated in relatively close elections in 2022, while Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines was limited to one term in office and could not run for re-election. In Sri Lanka, Gotabaya Rajapaksa was driven out of office by protests.
The report says 1.7 billion people were living under a populist leader at the start of 2023, compared with 2.5 billion in 2020. It says that populism on both left and right is defined by two claims – that a country’s “true people” are locked into a moral conflict with “outsiders” and, second, that nothing should constrain the will of the “true people”. [Continue reading…]