A Left-wing populist insurgency exploded across the West in the wake of the Great Financial Crisis
After decades of retreat, the last decade saw a left resurgence from the US to Western Europe and the Mediterranean. This revival of anti-establishment left-wing candidates was not only left but also populist. Though in most cases these movements ran out of steam before effectively being in a position wield state power, many of the parties and figures associated with this wave of left populism have entered government and others are still contesting high office.
Providing a blow-by-blow history of the rise and defeat of left electoral movements in the West, Boriello and Jaeger guide us through the conditions that shaped this wave of insurgencies. These include extreme and rising inequality, the collapse of civic life, and a lack of trust in traditional institutions.
In this context, Boriello and Jaeger argue that some or another form of populism was all but inevitable. And, despite defeats, left offensives of present and future will be populist in nature. This is because the conditions that shaped the first left populist wave are still very much with us.
About the Author
Anton Jäger is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Catholic University of Leuven. He has published widely on populism, basic income, and the contemporary crisis of democracy. His work has appeared in Jacobin, The Guardian, and The New Statesmen.
Arthur Borriello is a FNRS postdoctoral research fellow at the Université libre de Bruxelles. He has published on populism and the political transformations in Southern Europe in places including Jacobin, Mediapart, Catalyst and La Trivial.