Not any kind of soup! A warming one, served during every new election campaign. Such a popular – even populist – dish is without borders. See in Europe. It just takes a few thousands of frustrated voters, a bunch of abused citizens, and…out comes the soup. Voilà! Feeling down? Demand a bowl! Recipe: start with an ordinary broth of populist stance, add chopped bitter words, then mix with two or three handfuls of precut criticism and a pinch of ready-made solutions. Such a hot beverage will always please a great number of people. In the meantime, it will always scare a majority of so-called « democracy defenders ».
Ok, experts will point out differences between France’s Front National, Germany’s and Switzerland’s Pegida, Poland’s PiS or Italy’s Lega Nord. Indeed, their leaders career path are unique. Each party has experienced different fortunes. Anyhow, the populist farce remains the same wherever you look! Populism strength in Europe – and probably beyond the continent – depends on how miserable leading parties behave and deliver. But beware! In Poland, in Hungary nowadays as well as in Austria before, extremist parties are already behind the wheel. And their citizen can’t sort out whether populism is fictitious or real!
Look at populism targets. These voters aren’t all monsters, nor all psycho or brainless creatures. They’re just ordinary people feeling safer when listening to populist parties proposals. They believe that a sense of nation is revived. In Spain, in Italy, in France, in Germany or in Poland, whole sections of the society have a feeling of losing faith in their future. They are a key target to any charismatic political leader. A perfect prey for populists, with a simple promise to make a better world! Shall we forgive people for being so naïve? so as to open their mouth and swallow that simplistic soup? Or on the contrary, shall we blame them for being irresponsible and accepting any conflation? Like mixing the economic crisis with insecurity issues and eventually putting the blame one more time on Islam, as an eternal and easy scapegoat…
In front of a tractable public, demagoguery treats people like children and leads to endless political creativity. Recently Europe buzzed on selective immigration, underlining Canada and Australia as evidence that it works. Closer, in Poland for instance, there’s been this simplistic proposal of welcoming one thousand migrants from the Middle East, providing they are catholics. But in order not to look too strict, it’s been repeated that hundreds of thousands of ukrainian migrants were welcomed since the start of the conflict with Russia. Meanwhile, in Germany, anti-PEGIDA troops demonstrated in the name of tolerance, further to extreme-right islamophobic incitations. Not to forget Denmark or Sweden, facing violence and post-liberal skepticism among their people.
Here we are now at the very bottom of the marmite. What’s left from the populist soup? Provocation, again and again, and a great deal of emotions, alla comoedia dell’arte. That soup leaves a bitter aftertaste. No matter if the soft broth served by moderate parties foster rationality and democratic legitimacy. After all, the populist marmite thrives and its fumet keeps spreading all over the cities streets. No way to remove the smell, unless mainstream political parties copycat the extremists’ style, as the left and right wings showed over the last decades.
But let’s no be fooled. Politics have been losing their grip nationwide for many years although they pretend not to. For a while supranational forces, led by OEDC, WTO and IMF not to forget the European Commission. All unelected, not much democratic, and actually supervised by the big finance and corporate world. Politics of all wings spent such a long honeymoon with the « market forces » and the so-called « invisible hand » that they almost lost all kind of power and autonomy. The most curious readers may wonder whether this was deliberate or not. A masterplan or just an unexpected big bug? Anyway, there we are! And don’t expect any political leader to say « mea culpa ». That’s another free run for the populists !