International Day of Democracy: Is right-wing nationalism a threat to democracy

Are right-wing politicians diluting democracy across the world

If you look at some of the biggest democracies across the world, it could be found that they are dominated by right-wing politicians. Modi was re-elected in India in the 2019 general election. Bolsonaro was elected in Brazil in 2018 and Donald Trump was elected in the United States. Israel selected Benjamin Netanyahu as its leader. Many countries across Europe have chosen right-aligned politicians. All these leaders are hugely popular and known as strongmen leaders in their countries.

Russia, Hungary, Poland, Turkey which once offered democratic hope are now, in varying degrees, falling into authoritarianism. It won’t be wrong to say that democracy is in trouble in these countries.

United States President, Donald Trump poses a great threat to the American constitutional order. Despite the floundering four years, the opposition has not been to find the right voice to target the President of the US.

Trump’s erratic behavior, inflammatory tweets, and persistent disregard for democratic norms have continuously grown since he was elected President. He has publically called journalists and their media houses fake.

Why right-wing nationalism is increasing?

There should be no doubt nationalism is increasing in countries across the globe. Political leaders have now started using the nationalistic emotions of common people to endure people. Be it Trump’s ‘America First” policy or Modi’s swanking of the Balakot strike during the general election campaign in 2019. The nationalism has worked in the UK, when the citizens voted for Brexit, and also in the USA when it voted Donald Trump in power expecting him to work on inequality and a version of globalization which has benefitted only the rich and not the common people.

The right-wing nationalistic approach is present today because of the failure of progressive politics. The Indian National Congress in India has a limited presence in the country. They are at the most vulnerable stage currently. The Democratic Party in the US has become a part of technocratic liberalism favoring more to the professional classes than the middle-class and blue-collar, who once made the base for the party.

The uprising of right-wing politics in the UK, the US, India, and Europe is a backlash against the elites of mainstream parties, liberals, and center-left parties. Some examples are the Democrats in the US, Labor Party in the UK, Congress in India, Social Democratic Party in Germany, Democratic Party in Italy, Socialist Party in France.

Read more: It’s not Kangana vs Shiv Sena on TV, it’s death of journalism and core issues

modi trump
PC – Twitter (Narendra Modi)

How they are affecting democracy

The 2018 election in Brazil saw soon-to-be President Jair Bolsonaro demonstrating that authoritarian and far-right populism promises to restore law and order remain a growing force in global politics. Placing a xenophobic and an authoritarian vision of Brazilian society, he declared that he won’t accept elections results if he loses it. He also defended the brutal military dictatorship vowed to pack the supreme court of the country, threatened to shoot supporters of Workers Party (opposition), and persecute media whoever criticizes him. Bolsonaro is said to have embraced misogynist rhetoric, racist, homophobic to that level that attorney general of Brazil had charged him for inciting hatred, and discrimination against women, blacks, gays and indigenous communities.

In India, the current PM hasn’t held any press conference  in the last 6 years. The government has been accused of interfering in the work of the Supreme Court, CBI, ED, RBI, and other institutions that ensure democracy is intact. A majority section of media in the country is all-praise for the PM and the government. RTI (Right Ton Information) Act, 2005 has been diluted.

Experts believe and even expect that the right-wing populists would seek to roll back democratic norms and institutions to quash the opposition and entrench their power. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Turkish President R T Erdogan, Poland’s Law and Justice Party, India’s Narendra Modi and even Donald Trump, the president of the United States has already demonstrated this.

Once the degradation of democracy increases, it would be a slippery and steep slope from democracy to authoritarianism. In Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s wholesale purge of the judiciary and civil service and the extended rule by the decree under the state of emergency are examples of how Turkey is already facing a downgrade in democracy.

What the world needs now?

The world needs to give new energy to democratic politics. We as citizens need to find our way to more robust public discourse, and one that respects pluralism by engaging with our disagreements rather than saying them that they are anti-national or asking them to leave the country.

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