Summer of Uncertainty

Referenda, Coups and Populist Politics



The past month or so stumped the pundits -- and the elites. From the United Kingdom’s ‘Brexit’ vote to an attempted coup in Turkey, events have upended any notion of politics as usual and ushered in a summer of uncertainty risking a further fragmentation of a fragile world order.

There are deeper, longer running currents at work in world affairs, though, which will continue to throw up surprises.

Globalisation and democracy, still under the long and dark shadow of the 2008 global financial crisis, are struggling to deliver the economic benefits and social cohesion expected of them.

In the rich countries, stagnant real incomes and the permanent post-de-industrialization loss of skilled manual jobs are bolstering populism, protectionism and isolationism -- challenging political elites in ways unprecedented in modern times.

In the Western democracies, this has taken the form of intemperate populist political insurgencies, which could reach their apogee in November with the election of the Republican party’s nominee Donald Trump to the White House.

In Europe, wracked by slow or no growth, existential angst and an institutional inability to deal with its migration crisis, parties of the extreme left and right are on the rise with critical referenda and elections ahead for centrist governments in Italy, France and Germany.

Trust – in politicians, institutions, big corporations, the media – is at a low. Stridency and partisanship are the order of the day, pushing to the margins the compromise and diplomacy needed for the policymaking to solve the pressing global problems – from global terrorism and radical extremism to climate change and re-energising global trade and investment.

This all opens new opportunities for Russia and China, both increasingly illiberal and nationalist, to probe newly perceived vulnerabilities in their Western rivals.

Join us on Thursday, July 28 to put your questions to three of Oxford Analytica’s expert advisors about what lies behind the rise of populist politics in the West, the risks and opportunities it poses to policymakers, strategists and investors, and where to look for the next surprise.