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Is the Populist Wave Here to Stay?

Altamar’s fifth episode takes on a large, nebulous, and worrying topic: populism. Specifically, the new populist wave.

Nationalistic strongmen (women are notably absent from this unenviable club of leaders, as Muni notes) seem to be popping up all over the world. Sure, populist demagogues in Russia and Venezuela are nothing new, but what about India and Turkey? Are their secular democracies at stake? What about the US and Western Europe?

Peter and Muni are joined by Soli Özel, professor at Kadir Has University in Istanbul and columnist at Habertürk newspaper. An expert on populism, Soli warns that, unless institutions respond quickly to this new reality and its root causes, the phenomenon will continue to spread.

“Our institutions have a very hard time – both domestically and internationally – keeping up with immense and rapidly unfolding changes,” he says. “Our bad luck is that we have found ourselves caught in the process of an unraveling of one system, and a new system has not yet emerged.”

Peter shared a sense of urgency and concern.

“The multilateral world of a rules-based global economy and community-based solutions seems to be disappearing in this tornado of populism,” he says.

But Muni is more optimistic. With all the fear surrounding the new momentum radicals hold, she believes centrist politicians “will begin to respond to this upsurge of populism by trying to listen to the people and provide answers.”

The episode is available for streaming and download.

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Episode 9