Skip to main content

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions

lee39_MarkWilsonGettyImages_trumpmodihug Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Populism Takes Asia

Despite the damage populists have done in the West, Asian voters are increasingly falling for the likes of India’s Narendra Modi, Indonesia’s Joko Widodo, and the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte. How can responsible Asian leaders take the wind out of populists’ sails?

SEOUL – The rise of populism across the West in recent years has been the subject of countless discussions, and for good reason: populists’ misguided policies often have severely adverse political and economic consequences. Now, those risks are coming to Asia.

There is no straightforward definition of populism. It may be ideological, economic, social, or cultural. It may reflect left-wing or right-wing views. And it is often interpreted in a country-specific context.

But populism’s various iterations tend to share common features. Populist parties are typically led by a charismatic individual, who pits “the corrupt elite” and “outsiders” against “the people,” whose true will the populist purports to represent. This approach is most effective at times when the public is deeply frustrated with established leaders or political parties, owing to deepening economic and social disparities, rising insecurity, or overt corruption.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

https://prosyn.org/OTFk3cr;
  1. op_twliu1_XinhuaXiao Yijiu via Getty Images_wuhancoronavirushospitaldoctor Xinhua/Xiao Yijiu via Getty Images
    Free to read

    Witnessing Wuhan

    Tracy Wen Liu

    While Chinese authorities have been projecting an image of national triumph over the COVID-19 outbreak there, the doctors and nurses on the front lines tell a different story. Having lived through hell, they see little to celebrate, much to mourn, and reason to remain fearful.

    7

Edit Newsletter Preferences