‘The Rise of the Populists’ (The Economist, 2015)
Anti-globalisation has been increasing evermore in recent times. Not only have we witnessed the election of anti-establishment, Nationalist Donald Trump as the new President of the United States – a vote for American values, American citizens and a strength against politically correct, and unwanted involvement with other states, but this set a precedent for other countries, particularly in Europe. Trump’s protectionist promises to force Apple to manufacture on American soil, as opposed to China (Michael Moore, 2017), and his promises that they will cut down on immigration, blocking 7 nations any access to the US and drawing up a wall to keep Mexican’s out – Trumps vote was one against non-populism and for patriotic reforms in favour of their own people, a shift away from international economic integration and globalisation.
A win by Marine Le Pen would have added to the success of this anti-globalisation movement, however, whilst France did not vote for the far right, Italy – a nation which witnesses a lot of migration as one of the gateways of Europe – are set for a likely coalition between the Eurosceptic populist Five Star Movement and the anti-immigrant League, showing the resistance towards internationalism and towards nationalism (Henley and Voce, 2018). These rises can be attributed to the shift into de-globalisation seen since the UK’s exit from the EU last year. Reluctance to contribute to shared obligations, particularly concerning matters of immigration, and resentment aimed at foreign workers, spiked this political shift towards sovereignty and independence. Whether this will impact the UK and its trade partners is yet to be seen, however, difficulties in securing trade deals during the negotiations regarding the UK and its new relationship with the free market demonstrate that the ease of trade and developing of one’s economy is significantly easier through the process of globalisation, and interconnectedness between states.
The backlash against the refugee crisis spurred nationalism across many states. Originating in the East, concerned by terror attacks in France, nations such as Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic formed a political alliance called Visegrad, which collectively rejected their responsibility to accommodate third-world refugees claiming “the mainly-Muslim refugees have no place in their predominantly Christian societies” (Kirby, 2017). Populist parties in the West also gained ground by criticising and openly opposing the idea of accepting so many refugees, Germany with the AfD and France with the National Front – both saw a rise of the more extreme right-wing parties (Joffe, 2017). This demonstrates that countries are losing patience to pick up the costs for the people affected in the aftermath of international wars, with the EU alone spending €17.7 billion from their budget towards migrants between 2015-2017 (Publications.europa.eu, 2017).
The EU had threatened action against states unwilling to cooperate with the EU obligations, and were using financial leverage by threatening to freeze funds to ensure the adherence by all states to honour their commitments. Worryingly this division in the EU led Brussels to sue Poland and its supporters (Kirby, 2017), and the EU could potentially impose sanctions on other states, leading to a nationalist vs pro-EU trade war. This could impact upon states’ individual economies, and thus instability could eventually bring about the demise of international organisations such as the EU, if enough members follow in the rise of the far right.
What does this mean for the international political economy?
Populism increases economic nationalism which goes against the concept of globalisation and the free market. This would impact upon the ability to trade and can lead to trade wars, such as between the USA and China, which is currently taking place. Protectionist measures culminated in massive increases in taxation by the US on steel and aluminium imports by China, in order to increase their own steel production, meaning that prices have increased, and trade has suffered as a result (Walker, 2018), with the World Trade Organisation head stating that this would have “a severe impact on the global economy” (BBC News, 2018), with China’s trade with the US “the heart of global trade” (Pei, 2018). Statist and protectionist positions, as witnessed in the US’ actions recently, are increased when anti-globalisation becomes more of a hostility or rejection of global links and institutions (Held, McGrew, 2007: 198). These can also be justified when driven by the opposition of threats to national identities or religious traditions (Held, McGrew, 2007: 198), which can be argued for Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’ and forcing of production to be held within national borders. If this process escalated further, into full trade wars with other products, it would “harm [the] economy…kill jobs…slow innovation, and strain ties with nations around the world” (Delaney, 2018), and this would eventually impact the entire global economy as global supply chains are rerouted, which would cost billions to match the labour and production networks that were in place previously. Further, if this trend spreads, it could eventually lead to the “unravelling of the World Trade Organisation” (Pei, 2018).
These incidences all lead to the same result. The exit of the UK from the EU, the election of Trump as President – the people are showing through these votes how tired they have become from the state constantly sacrificing their own needs for ‘foreigners’ for ‘terrorists’ and for ‘immigrants’ (Ravenhill, 2017: 81). The costs that terrorism and migration has on the economy are undisputable, but the rise of far-right populism is a non-effective way of combatting these issues. Anti-globalisation in the long run could prove harmful if the world continues to shift away from interconnectedness and proceeds to follow a statist path, which would further macroeconomic inequality, as some states rely on exports to make up their economy, and could impact upon all other areas of the global political economy.
Leila Lerari – M00559185
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