The Rise of Populism in Asia: A Distinct Phenomenon or Part of a Global Trend?

Panel Code

The recent successes of the right parties in Europe, BREXIT and the election of Donald Trump to US presidency have resulted in an intense debate in academia and media alike, regarding the causes of populism. Explanations have ranged from economic factors and the growing disparity between the rich and the rest to immigration and its impact on the host societies. Most of the current scholarship on populism, however, focuses exclusively on the United States and Europe, implying that the recent rise in populism is a distinctively Western phenomenon. Populism, however, has been on the rise in many Asia countries as well. This panel seeks to explore a number of cases from the Asian region and explore their roots and effects. Here we follow Mudde’s definition of “populism” as a “thin ideology” that juxtaposes the people with the corrupt elites. Arkilic’s paper will analyze the roots of populist nationalism pursued by the AKP party and its effects on the Turkish expats in Europe. Oguma’s paper focuses on nationalistic policies of Prime-Minister Abe Shinzo and will critically explore the veracity of describing such policies as “populist”. Kenny and Holmes turn to the Philippines under President Duterte and assess the extent of populist attitudes among Philippine citizens and the relationship between these attitudes and support for Duterte. The last paper in the panel by Bukh will apply Fukuyama’s “end of history” thesis in an attempt to explore the common roots of the rise in populism in Asia and the West.