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The Rise of Populists in Asia: Democracies Under Siege

Friday, 26 January 2018

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Populism is in the air. And the specter of popular autocracy is haunting much of the world. In recent years, a growing number of rapidly-growing economies, with long traditional of liberal democratic rule, have gradually succumbed to temptations of populism: charismatic leaders promsing overnight solutions to complex problems besetting turbo-charged modernizing nations.

And surely, there are more fundamental structural forces at play in here. As Joel Racamora argues in the latest edition of the Socdem Asia Quarterly, “neoliberal economic policies marginalize large segments of the rural and urban population, creating the conditions for populism.” In short, the inherently disruptive and inequitous nature of economic globalization, which has brought tremendous prosperity to emerging market elites, is alienating a growing portion of the society that seeks its own rightful piece of the expanding pie.

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