Should we understand the rise of Trump or the success of Brexit in terms of populism? Culture? Xenophobia? Do the same political forces produce Sanders and Trump? In his new book Anti-System Politics: The Crisis of Market Liberalism in Rich Democracies
(Cambridge University Press, 2020), Jonathan Hopkin
provides case studies of Spain, Italy, Greece, the US, and UK to argue that the election results in rich Western democracies are not the result of populism or hostility to migration – but opposition to the inequalities brought on by the economic policy of neo-liberalism. Hopkin’s finely grained qualitative study emphasizes the ways in which economics fuels movements from both left and right. Anti-systems candidates attack the ways in which neo-liberal institutions and politics distribute benefits and risks. For Hopkin, the greater the impact of economic inequality and hardship, the higher the vote share for anti-systems candidates and policies.
looks back to look forward. As nations abandoned the post-war model of egalitarian capitalism in the 1970s, they triggered an erosion of democratic process in favor of technocratic government that left little room for voters – or their leaders – to influence policy. After the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-2008, voters rejected candidates associated with an economic system that favored bailing out banks yet imposed austerity on citizens. Anti-Systems Politics
provides clear and compelling case studies that provide insights on contemporary politics from Europe to the US.
Susan Liebell is associate professor of political science at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. She is the author of Democracy, Intelligent Design, and Evolution: Science for Citizenship