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Populism, Asian style: 40 percent of the continent under populist governance

30 10 25
08.01.2019

THE populist wave that has swept the world in recent years has shaken up global politics and sent many establishment-politicians’ heads spinning.

Much of the focus has been in the western hemisphere, with the rise of Trump and more recently Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, along with bubbling populism across Europe. But Asia is far from immune.

A recent study from the Institute for Global Change found 40 percent of Asia’s population is governed by populists. A startling figure until you realise the continent is home to two of the top three most populous democracies in the world ruled by populists: Narendra Modi in India, and Joko “Jokowi” Widodo in Indonesia.

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Add to that the Philippines under the presidency of Rodrigo Duterte, and it accounts for over 1.7 billion people.

But populism means different things to different rulers, something that is reflected in the distinct leadership style of each. While there is always an element of us vs them to populists’ rhetoric, who exactly falls into each group tends to differ.

Types of populism

The report differentiates between three versions of populism most commonly used today.

Cultural populism, the report states, claims “the true people are the native members of the nation-state, and outsiders can include immigrants, criminals, ethnic and religious minorities, and cosmopolitan elites.”

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© Asian Correspondent