Understanding Populism vs. Democracy – Global Village Space


At the end of the 19th century, there was a major trade union organization, the “knights of labour”, as well as a radical populist movement based on farmers. It’s hard to believe, but it was pretty drastic. They wanted their own type of political system and model of governance. After struggling to implement their ideology, this movement ultimately failed and greatly damaged our political and economic environment of society. Populism refers to a range of political positions that emphasize the idea of ​​the people and often juxtapose this group with the elite

The growing concept of populism across the world is massively undermining the diplomatic, cultural, political and economic norms of the world. Populist leaders have tried to capture the sympathies of the masses by giving them false hope, based on the idealist approach. When they came to power through a populist mandate, they failed to deliver on their promises on the economic and political fronts, triggering economic hardship for the country. A recent example of this tenure is India’s Prime Minister Modi, who won India’s Lok Sabha elections in 2014 and again in 2019 with a landslide victory over Congress.

Read more: Populism: the specter haunts the European Union

During his election campaign, Modi overwhelmingly highlighted his economic achievements during his tenure as Chief Minister of Gujarat State. He promised to implement this economic model nationwide for the recovery of the vulnerable Indian economy. However, after assuming the post of Prime Minister, his failed economic policies significantly destroyed India’s already declining financial indicators. After being in power for 8 years, he is struggling to improve economic indicators. His rhetoric shifted from the economic to the strategic front, which also put India to shame.

He used the famous line “Chokidar Kon Ha” (Who is the guard)

Similarly, former US President Trump is another precedent for populism and its negative consequences for democratic values ​​around the world. Trump won the 2016 US election and surprisingly became president of the most powerful country in the world. Since he was a nationalist and won the election with a populist vote bank, his policies had negative repercussions not only for the United States, but also for the whole world. Because of its policy, the international community has refused to obey US policies regarding global issues. It also brought the United States to the brink of full-scale war with Iran and North Korea. Thus, the trend of populism is purely disastrous for the global political and economic world order.

Now let’s talk about another aspect of populist vote banking. Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan used the same populist approach to target his country’s political, judicial and military leaders to achieve his political goals. As Modi brought the security paradigm to his populist approach to scoring political points, Imran Khan came with the United States a narrative of American conspiracy to overthrow his government.

Imran Khan won the 2018 general election with the promise to stamp out corruption, make the country economically strong and rule the state like the state of Madinah. His other rhetoric was combating Islamophobia around the world. Unfortunately, it failed to deliver on all of those fronts. His policies have severely damaged Pakistan’s declining economy. He could not even integrate the country politically, economically and socially. It has further created intolerance, panic and chaos in society. So that’s the negative side of populist leaders. They came in the majority, having no plan for the betterment of the country. This cult of personality is spreading now, which also shows a growing polarization in our societies.

Read more: Modi’s populism or Imran’s humanity: what went wrong for the BJP?

These populist leaders live in a post-truth ideology and have created negative political and social discourses within societies. First they made statements, then they deny them themselves. For example, Imran Khan is known as the master of the U-turn in Pakistan due to his lack of wisdom and his ability to make a powerful decision. For example, he initially praised Pakistan’s military, but after his removal of the prime minister, he blamed them for his ousting on shaky ground. He blamed the military but did not present a single piece of evidence to prove his claim. During Nawaz Sharif’s tenure, he said “Modi ka jo yar ha, Ghadar” (Whoever is friend of Modi is a traitor).

Similarly, Sharif has publicly recognized Modi for his foreign policy

Regarding corruption, he had promised the eradication of corrupt elements from society, but again he could not accomplish that as well. His own ministers have been implicated in corruption scandals. During his tenure as prime minister, Pakistan’s ranking slipped further in the international corruption index. His hypocritical approach is considered a threat to national interests.

It is relevant to mention here that leaders always lead from the front and with examples. The irony is that Imran Khan is a man of contradictory statements. Her own children live a luxurious life in Western culture. He himself has spent half his life with Western culture. But at the same time, he pushes for Islamic social, cultural and political values. Unfortunately, he also uses the religious card for his political gains. He is trying to become the leader of the Muslim world but at the same time he has not done anything positive and constructive for Muslim states. He played with people’s feelings while using religious and political cards.

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It has politically and socially polarized our society. Now people need to think before they vote for populist leaders like Imran Khan. The world cannot afford more immature policies from populist leaders. Imran Khan’s political discourse must be changed. It must respect the institutions of the country and not target them solely for mere political gain as this will give hostile elements sufficient reason to undertake propaganda against our country. Our institutions are working tirelessly to stimulate the country’s economic growth. we need to support them instead of spreading political venom.

The author is an Islamabad-based expert and a regular contributor. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space


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