Forum for Democratic Change strongman Dr. Kizza Besigye on Wednesday addressed the Belgian Senate -on Representation in the age of populism; Ideas for global action
The conference, which took place on 18-20 June, addressed whether populism – in all its different forms and shapes – signifies a potential demise of representative democracy, or if whether triggers a renewal.
Asked how the world could achieve peace, stability and development? The Ugandan opposition leader said ‘’ the answer is fair and inclusive political systems.’’
He added: You cannot see populism as separate from power relations in vulnerable regions, he called for more support to inclusive dialogue in Uganda and elsewhere at Populism conference
Experts from across the globe gathered in the Belgian Senate in Brussels. Over the course of 10 sessions, they addressed global action on social movements, party innovation, social media and legislation, among other topics.
Populism has become an increasingly powerful political force in recent years. Before diving into the issue of populism, it is important to single out its definition. Populism is a “thin ideology”, meaning that it can have hosts on the left and the right of the political spectrum, and even create hybrids of its own, like the Five Stars Movement (M5S) in Italy.
Political scientists point to populism’s claim to represent a morally unified people betrayed by the elites, therefore representing the silent but angry majority. Populists excel at communicating the ordinary voters’ discontent, often relying on their rage at a technocratic political establishment that cannot confront emotive political issues in public.
The populist surge is, at least in part, a response to the apparent political failures of established parties to address their society’s biggest challenges – in Europe, mainly migration and the lingering euro crisis – as well as a backlash to a perceived grand coalition between the centre-left and the centre-right. European mainstream parties have moved ever closer toward the ideological centre: many left wing parties deprioritized ideology and embraced a “post-partisan pragmatism” while the right shifted towards a more progressive agenda, mostly in sociocultural matters.
The appeal of traditional institutions for political representation, such as political parties and legislatures, seems to be in decline in both established and developing democracies alike. Increasingly, new forms of political action and agendas emerge, including different forms of populism.
To explore this new reality, NIMD teamed up with International IDEA, OSCE/ODIHR, REPRESENT and WFD to organize a conference on “Representation in the age of populism”.
Speakers at the conference included: Michelle Bachelet – Former President of Chile, Enrico Letta – Former Premier of Italy, Cas Mudde – Expert on populism, Delia Ferreira – Chair of Transparency International among others.