Social Democracy in a time of Populism: from ripples to surges
On its third successive batch, the Network of Social Democracy in Asia’s (or SocDem Asia) Political Management Training brought together progressive young leaders from across Southeast Asia. The current batch is the largest and most diverse yet with participants from Indonesia, Malaysia, East Timor, Burma, Thailand, and the Philippines coming from the youth movement, political parties, art community and civil society. The first leg of the PMT was again held in Manila with the partnership of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and the Olof Palme International Center. With the usual pleasantries and camaraderie among the participants one would get the impression that progressives and social democrats are gaining the upper hand in Asia. However, step outside the conference room, Asian democrats and progressives are losing ground to fundamentalist and populist movements. Like their European counterparts, the Asian populist movements are competing with the established progressive, labor and democratic movements but with far better results. Populists are taking the reins of government.