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Rising African populism will threaten status quo

Monday, May 22, 2017

Subject

Rise of left-wing populists in East and Southern Africa.

Significance

The failure of the political mainstream to address the needs of the poor has created space for the emergence of a new generation of populist movements and leaders. In Tanzania and Zambia, this has led to the election of populist presidents. In South Africa, it has resulted in the emergence of a populist opposition party and the rise of a series of interconnected social movements animated by anti-elitist sentiment. What distinguishes the new populist wave is that it seeks to overthrow existing inequalities, consciously targeting established 'nationalist' or 'liberation' forces that are seen to have grown complacent and corrupt.

Impacts

  • The rise of populist opposition parties will encourage governments to adopt more populist economic policies.
  • Higher government spending and lower regard for orthodox economic advice could increase budget deficits and lead to rising national debt.
  • Several states will become more vocal criticisms of global inequalities, and perceived Western hypocrisy, in forums such as the WTO and UN.
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