ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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What Do Populist Authoritarians Do When They Rule?

In the times of the generalised ascendance of right-wing populism, it is necessary to have comparative view of right-wing governments and parties. Such an exercise would help discern common patterns of the ideological programme and political practice of these forces.

The strategy of mobilising people on the basis of economic and cultural anxiety, and constructing identity-based nationalism to gain power is described variously as majoritarian nationalism, populist authoritarianism or right-wing populism (RWP). Populisms by nature are centralising, even within democratic systems. When violence is used to achieve these agendas, it slides into site-specific fascist tendencies. Right wing populists or ethnonationalists hold office in many countries the world over (United States [US], 11 European countries, Turkey, Pakistan, India, Philippines, Brazil, Ecuador, etc). They are a formidable opposition and can influence policy in others. RWP is not uniform or new, but a complex phenomenon, with historical roots known best after the World War I economic crises. Currently, the turn to the right is so sharp, that left liberals, political centrists, neo-liberals and important conservatives from Barack Obama, Tony Blair, Madeleine Albright all warn of the rise of fascism (Albright 2018). RWP coexists with any form of state from totalitarian to liberal democratic, as they make state institutions subservient to their control (Burley 2017). This article offers a comparative template of RWP’s methods of rule.

There are a concatenation of forces and crises in social, economic, political and cultural life combined by populists to reject the liberal order, social justice and traditional elites. One major factor that has exacerbated right-wing authoritarianism is neo-liberalism. With pressure on living standards, citizens tend to look for reasons to diminish anxieties. This disquiet and fears of a weakening economy, cultural invasion by the “different” and security threats, are in most cases taken up by RWPs. The RWP argument is that subsidies to the poor, especially migrants, people of colour, Muslims (who are all generally citizens), the entry of women into job markets, are actually a drain on the national economy, due to which the majority of people suffer.

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Updated On : 17th Jun, 2019
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