Old and New Populisms
The English-language edition of this book comes out almost two years after the original one in Italian. In the course of these twenty-four months “the situation of democracy” does not seem to have improved. On the 1st March 2014, the title on the cover of the Economist recited, significantly, What’s gone wrong with democracy and how to revive it. The recession which struck the USA first, Europe later, has aggravated the problems affecting western political systems more than ever. The recent European elections of spring 2014 have confirmed the advance (more evident in some countries than in others) of the Euro-skeptical and xenophobic parties. The economic crisis, for example that of Italy and of the southern European nations who are finding it very hard to recover, has been further exacerbated by the overall European political scenario. To the East, in Crimea and the Ukraine, certain areas have become the theatre of armed strife, by no means easy to resolve. To the West, the democratic states are questioning welfare policies no longer seen as acquired rights, on the grounds that Europe and its institutions are the main cause of the present crisis. Nationalism and claims of independence (the cases of Scotland and Catalonia are emblematic) are impacting on the international political scene which seems less and less capable of fostering the unity of political and democratic institutions.
Analyses of populism, from its origins in nineteenth-century Russia and USA to its numerous Latin-American variants, are still topical. In...
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