Sheri Berman

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At a rally held by former U.S. President Donald Trump in Mesa, Arizona, October 2022. Brian Snyder / File Photo / Reuters

Among the many takeaways of the U.S. midterms, one of the most striking is the alarming number of election deniers that were on the ballot, often in uncontested districts. Across the country, dozens of candidates for House, Senate, and state-level positions who have refused to recognize the 2020 election results are coming to office. As such, they are the latest signs in what some observers see as a dangerous democratic decline across the West. According to this view, what has happened in the United States since the January 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol has found echoes in Western Europe, where far-right parties recently achieved stunning success in Italy and Sweden and shown new strength in France.…  Seguir leyendo »

Populistas, verdes y el nuevo mapa europeo

El auge del populismo” y “la ola verde” fueron las dos expresiones utilizadas por muchos observadores para resumir el resultado de las recientes elecciones al Parlamento Europeo. Los partidos ecologistas tendrán 69 escaños en la nueva Cámara, frente a 51 en la anterior, y los populistas de extrema derecha también han aumentado su porcentaje de votos, el 25% frente al 20% anterior. Como sucede en muchos Parlamentos nacionales, una consecuencia crucial es que, por primera vez desde que comenzaron las elecciones directas a la Eurocámara en 1979, los partidos tradicionales de centroderecha y centroizquierda ya no tienen una mayoría.

¿Cómo podemos interpretar estas tendencias?…  Seguir leyendo »

Los principales retos a los que se enfrentan la izquierda y las democracias occidentales son de dos tipos: económicos y sociales. Sobre los primeros, en los últimos años ha surgido cierto consenso en el sentido de que la izquierda había derivado excesivamente hacia el neoliberalismo y debía cambiar de rumbo, atacar directamente el aumento de las desigualdades y la disminución de la movilidad social y reforzar el Estado de bienestar. No ha habido un replanteamiento similar de la postura de la izquierda en temas sociales, en particular la inmigración y la identidad nacional. Es frecuente que la mera sugerencia de que hay que revisarla provoque una reacción en contra.…  Seguir leyendo »

Demonstrators clash with riot police at the Arc de Triomphe while protesting rising diesel prices in Paris on Saturday. (AFP/Getty Images)

Hundreds of thousands of French people have turned out in recent weeks to protest the energy policy of President Emmanuel Macron’s government. Last weekend the movement spread to Paris, generating France’s worst urban riots in years. Protesters torched cars and stormed the Arc de Triomphe, one of the most recognizable Paris landmarks, smashing the lower floors before ascending to the roof. Over 100 people were injured, and more than 400 were arrested and tens of thousands of police officers, firefighters and even the armed forces were called in to restore order.

What’s behind this unrest? Here’s what you need to know:

1.…  Seguir leyendo »

Política, pesimismo y populismo

El ascenso del populismo de extrema derecha es el problema actual más acuciante de Europa. Numerosos analistas hemos vinculado ese ascenso al declive de la socialdemocracia y del centro-izquierda: muchos de sus votantes tradicionales votan hoy a partidos populistas; la aceptación, por parte de la socialdemocracia, de un neoliberalismo “más amable” abrió un espacio político que los populistas han ocupado con su utilización xenófoba del Estado de bienestar; y el declive electoral socialdemócrata ha impedido formar Gobiernos con mayoría de izquierdas y, en muchos países europeos, con una mayoría estable, sin más. Como consecuencia, es más difícil resolver los problemas, y eso alimenta la insatisfacción y el populismo.…  Seguir leyendo »

In Sweden’s general election on Sept. 9, voters reduced the power of the center-left and center-right parties — while boosting that of a populist, far-right, anti-immigrant party. The election has gotten an unusual amount of international attention for a country of only 10 million.

So what happened, and why does it matter?

Voters across Europe are abandoning traditional parties — resulting in unstable governments.

Long viewed as an island of democratic stability, Sweden has finally succumbed to the electoral instability that’s been sweeping Europe. Here’s how stable it was: The center-left Social Democratic Party (SAP) led governments from the 1930s through the 1970s.…  Seguir leyendo »

Democracy in the West is under attack from populists and, at least according to some studies, is no longer highly valued by many of its citizens. Most explanations of democracy’s problems focus on the challenges it faces: Globalization has made life more insecure for the working and middle classes, privileged highly educated and urban dwellers over less-educated and rural ones, and made capitalism more of a zero-sum game while rising immigration — the percentage of foreign-born citizens is at an all-time high in many European countries and at levels last seen during the early 20th century in the United States — has left many feeling uncomfortable in their countries.…  Seguir leyendo »

Democracy today seems to be in constant crisis. Democratic backsliding has occurred in countries from Venezuela to Poland, and autocratic leaders, including Hungary’s Viktor Orban, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, proudly proclaim that the era of liberal democracy is over. Perhaps most worrying, even in the West where it has long been taken for granted, liberal democracy is under attack from populists, and, according to some scholars, it is no longer highly valued by many citizens.

In seeking to explain these troubling trends, most observers focus on the challenges currently facing democracy. They argue that globalization and rising automation have made life more insecure for the working and middle classes, privileged highly educated city dwellers over the less educated who live in rural areas, and made capitalism more of a zero-sum game.…  Seguir leyendo »

Demonstrators gathered to protest Islamic law wave flags during a rally June 10, in New York. In more than two dozen cities across the United States, the group organizing the rallies, ACT for America, is speaking out against Shariah law, saying it is incompatible with Western democracy. (Craig Ruttle/AP)

Twenty years ago, Fareed Zakaria analyzed the rise of “illiberal democracy” — a form of government with free and fair elections but without “the rule of law, a separation of powers, and the protection of basic liberties of speech, assembly, religion, and property.” Now illiberal democracy seems to be rising, so that even long-standing liberal democracies in Western Europe and the United States seem to be falling under its spell.

Some people blame democracy for empowering a mass of “people” whom elites look at with fear. Books and articles questioning rule by “the people” have proliferated, as have arguments that democracy ought to be limited.…  Seguir leyendo »

Most Western countries are seeing increased dissatisfaction with the economic and political status quo. This has fed the rise of populism, destabilizing party systems and even democracy. The most recent twists in the French presidential race reflect this as well as some distinctive new features of French politics.

France’s Socialists are falling apart

One notable feature of the race is the crackup of the French Socialist Party (PS). Just like in France’s presidential election, the PS runs a two-stage primary (assuming no candidate wins a majority in the first round) in which the top two candidates go through to the second round.…  Seguir leyendo »

Karl Marx wrote that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. He had in mind the Revolution of 1848, when a democratic uprising against the French monarchy collapsed into a Bonapartist dictatorship just as the French Revolution had six decades earlier.

In 1848, workers joined with liberals in a democratic revolt to overthrow the French monarchy. However, almost as soon as the old order collapsed, the opposition fell apart, as liberals grew increasingly alarmed by what they saw as “radical” working class demands. Conservatives were able to co-opt fearful liberals and reinstall new forms of dictatorship.

Those same patterns are playing out in Egypt today — with liberals and authoritarians playing themselves, and Islamists playing the role of socialists.…  Seguir leyendo »