“The New Populism Isn’t About Economics”

That is the title of my latest Bloomberg column, here is one pithy excerpt:

Among emerging economies, the Philippines moved from being an Asian growth laggard into some years of 8 percent growth. Voters responded by electing as president Rodrigo Duterte, one of the most aggressive and authoritarian populists around. In eastern Europe, Poland has been seeing average 4 percent growth for more than 25 years, yet the country has moved in a strongly nationalist direction, flirting with sanctions from the EU for limiting judicial independence. Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia and now the Czech Republic all are much wealthier than 20 years ago and mostly have been booming as of late. Yet to varying degrees they too have moved in nationalist, populist and possibly even anti-democratic directions.

And the closer:

So the next time you hear material discontent cited as driving electoral results, just remember that economic data are usually interpreted through a cultural lens.

And yes, I cover New Zealand and the Czech elections too.


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