Mit demokratischer Innovation gegen den Rechtsruck

An Interview With Andre Weisser from the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in London about populism and democratic innovation [in German]. Originally posted on Sagwas.

The right voices in the UK are getting louder. The right-wing populist Party UK Independence Party (UKIP) gained 12.6 percent of votes at the last general election. Claudia Chwalisz researches about populism at the London think tank Policy Network. In her book “The Populist signal” they analyzed the UKIP voters and concludes that it is mainly a protest vote against the established political system. An interview.

Woman Chwalisz, what are the findings of your recent study populism?

Most people feel ignored by the political class. I have found that about 31 percent of people in the UK feel that their vote really does affect the decision of the local politicians. At national level, there are only 21 percent. General have 71 per cent of people feel that the political system needs to change. If the settings of the UKIP analyzed -Wähler, finds out one that only 12 percent of people think that their vote has influence. More than 90 percent believe that the political system needs to change. Thus we see that many feel left alone by politicians and believe that decisions are taken only by the political elites.


Why wins populism in Europe and in the United Kingdom increasingly support?

Most people feel ignored by the political class. I have found that about 31 percent of people in the UK feel that their vote really does affect the decision of the local politicians. At national level, there are only 21 percent. General have 71 per cent of people feel that the political system needs to change. If the settings of the UKIP analyzed -Wähler, finds out one that only 12 percent of people think that their vote has influence. More than 90 percent believe that the political system needs to change. Thus we see that many feel left alone by politicians and believe that decisions are taken only by the political elites.

Populism is not a new phenomenon. Especially in Western Europe since the late 1980s and early 1990s, it is gaining in popularity, however. I do not think that it has ostensibly to do with economic factors than the economic crisis. Populist parties know that is also very well received in countries that were less affected by the crisis, such as Austria or Switzerland. In addition, countries such as Portugal and Ireland, which were severely affected by the crisis, no strong populist parties. It is the disillusionment with politics that emerged, particularly in the countries in which many voters see no real differences more between the two most established parties on the left and right side.

Why choose younger and older generations populist parties, although both generations represent different values?

Populists appeal to those members of society who feel left behind. This may be the older, male working class, which is stereotypically for the electorate of the populists, but also relates to a younger generation that feels excluded from the economic growth after the crisis. Both generations are averse to the traditional, hierarchical form of politics. Your choice decision is based more of an anti-mainstream and anti-establishment feeling. Because they are against this closed, elite-driven, hierarchical parties and require a new form of politics. I do not think young people are apolitical in this sense. I think they just want a policy that responds reflected on society. I do not think they give of UKIP will receive. Your choice for UKIP however they see as a way of protesting against these traditional parties. UKIP -Wähler strive for a change in the political system.

Why does just the EU for many populist parties a problem?

The Euroscepticism concerns rather the older generation. They align themselves with the anti-globalization stance and claim national sovereignty, as they call it. The EU is blamed in numerous things that run apparently wrong, rather than deal with the more complex backgrounds. It also lacks the question of specific factors why the society has changed. Populists often have simple solutions to complicated problems. They claim that when a withdrawal from the EU things will get better. That suits this simplistic thinking.

In your book you propose structural changes of the political system, to counter the populist movements. How could this change look like? Which concepts could bring about a change of the political system?

In my study I looked at the so-called democratic innovation closer. This includes new forms of involving people more directly in the political decision-making. They involve a random selection of participants. The people are so chosen by lot to take decisions in the so-called town hall meetings or citizens’ parliaments. Another aspect is the focus on deliberation. Usually these meetings take place so that citizens interested in participating in discussions. The concept of deliberation refers to this public discourse on political issues. The third aspect of this new policy form means that the people will actually leave real decision-making power. If this is not met, people can advise you as much as they want, DJE decision-making power is then but still among the elites.

The role of politicians must change. Your job should not be to govern for the people, but to govern with the people in the future.

The decision-making power should be transferred directly to the Company. The aim is to give people a real voice in decisions, their consequences affect their future.

That would be a form of more direct democracy. Do you think that policies are better by direct democracy?

A number of scientific studies shows that decisions of a diverse group usually lead to better results, since a variety of perspectives is involved in the decision. Decisions that will be made by experts, mostly based on the same information. Experts confirm their settings rather each other rather than to question each other. In principle, it requires greater diversity among those who make political decisions to make these decisions better. The random selection of the decision aims to bring people to the table who are not already politically active. The focus on mutual consultation (deliberation) is very important. Participants will be provided to scrutinize other views intensively, discuss and then vote on one thing to be able to have enough time and the necessary resources.

As a summary of results: In what you see populism as a corrective or threat to democracy?

I think you definitely should be concerned about the anti-liberal discourse, populism holds. This must not accept it. But I think that populism can certainly be a corrective of democratic systems, once the mainstream parties perceive this as a signal, and realize that it needs improvements and that it is worthwhile to give people a real, constructive voice in the policy-making process.

[Image Source: Clara Molden]

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