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Pushing Against the Populist Tide

Winner of the 2017 Foreign Affairs Essay Competition

A protestor holds Polish and EU flags while demostrating against the Law and Justice Party in Warsaw, November 2017. Kacper Pempel / Reuters

Populism has become an increasingly powerful political force in recent years. As exemplified by the election of U.S. President Donald Trump in the United States, the nativist Brexit campaign in the United Kingdom, and the competitive showing of National Front leader Marine Le Pen in France, populist forces have gained ground throughout the developed world. But populism is not limited to Europe and North America: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have also used nationalist and populist rhetoric to achieve electoral success. And although the rise of populism is certainly not inexorable—Green Party candidate Alexander Van der Bellen defeated far-right nationalist Norbert Hofer in the 2016 Austrian presidential election, and centrist Emmanuel Macron trounced the nativist, anti-EU Le Pen in the second round of the French presidential election—it is difficult to argue that populist movements are categorically receding. After all, the recent electoral success

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