Tag: Populism


Kenya Decides: Kenyatta or Odinga?

In the past two years, the world has experienced multiple elections with unexpected results. Political divisions, public disenchantment, economic weakness, lack of leadership, acute international instability and –of course- terrorist attacks are combining to drive international politics to a populist stance. Following the elections in USA, France, UK and the Netherlands, now it is time to see what Kenya decides.

However, as far as the Kenya elections are concerned, the populist movement is maybe the least of its problems. The election of the 8th of August is the sixth presidential election since the country of more than 45 million people embraced a multiparty democratic system in 1992. Whilst the families of the leading presidential candidates, Kenyatta and Odinga, have been competing powers since the independence of Kenya from Britain in 1963. The existing situation is turbulent. In the second weekend of July nine people were beheaded by suspected Al-Shabaab militants, the Internal Security Minister suddenly died, Odinga was hospitalised with food poisoning, and President Kenyatta appeared to accuse the judiciary of trying to delay general elections. The decisions made on 8th August will have a considerable ripple effect throughout Kenyan society for years to come.

Latin American and European Populism: Expanding Horizons

Brexit and the election of Donald Trump have provided a rude awakening for many in Europe who had ignored the challenge of populism. As Europe braces itself for what will likely be a tumultuous future, considering other sources of valuable experience will become paramount.

In The Economist, Bello has recently pointed out the familiarity to Latin Americans of the type of populist nationalism espoused by the likes of Trump, with current techniques and narratives pulled straight from the “Latin American Manual”. However, and despite its rich populist history, the Latin American experience has often been overlooked. Those wishing to understand and counter in Europe and elsewhere would be wise to consider it.

Three lessons stand out. First, Latin America exemplifies the issues of a simplistic understanding of populism. Second, the region shows populism is persistent and more often than not has damaging consequences. Finally, Latin America has vast experience with post-truth politics, and confronting populism is impossible without tackling the post-truth politics that underpin it.