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A Threat or a Challenge to Liberal Democracy

  • Shahrukh Haider
  • Sep, 2019
  • 635
  • Populism


Thesis Statement: “Populist waves around the world, most notably in Western liberal democracies, are eroding the liberal ideals of the democratic order. Populism, as a political ideology, seeks to dislodge the elites from their position of power, however, it is not a threat to democracy itself more than it is a threat to liberal democracy. It strives to establish an illiberal democracy.”


a. “If you wish the support of broad masses, you must tell them the crudest and the most stupid things.” ~ Hitler

b. The phenomenon of populism

c. The established liberal democratic order

d. The convergence of populism and liberal democracy

e. Populism is a threat to liberal democracy; not democracy itself

2. Nature of Challenges Populism Poses

a. Anti-democratic norms

I. Attack on freedom of speech

1) President Trump’s attack on American media (CNN, NYT)

ii. Lack of confidence and attack on multilateralism

1) Brexit, shunning European multilateralism

2) Trumps’ UN Human Rights council citing bias against Israel

3) Us recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

4) Trump’s attack on World Trade Organization

iii. Unconventional diplomatic behaviour

1) Trump’s announcement of American foreign policy on Twitter

2) War of tweets between Trump and Kim Jong-un

3) Traditional US-Eu alliances becoming shaky

iv. Abandoning international agreements

1) US withdrawal from the JCPOA

2) Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord

3) Poland’s bid to disempower superior judiciary against European norms

v. Acute anti-immigrant sentiment

1) Alternate for Germany (AfG)’s anti-immigrant manifesto

2) Rising Islamophobia in Europe and elsewhere (Christchurch)

3) Hate crimes and xenophobia in Britain post Brexit

4) Refugee embargo by European nations

b. Anti-Globalization Narrative

i. Lack of confidence in multilateral organization such as the UN

ii. Attack on free trade regimes

1) Trump’s trade war against China

2) Trump’s attack and reformation of the NAFTA

c. Tendencies towards Isolationism

i. Lack of interest in Global Issues

1) Climate Change

2) Global refugee crisis

3. Preserving the Liberal Democratic Order

a. Need for progressive rather than regressive populism

i. Relief for middle-working class families to curb anti-globalization sentiment

ii. Gradual reduction in social and economic inequality

1) Progressive taxation

2) Social security nets

3) Government sponsored lifelong skills training and education

4) Social safety programs for poor

b. Restoring confidence in international institutions

c. Strengthening multilateral agreements and free trade regimes

d. Promoting democratic norms on the international stage

4. Conclusion

The contributing writer is the Help Desk Coordinator at the KIPs CSS Academy.

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