Populism: Consequences for Global Sustainable Development

Paul Marschall , Stephan Klingebiel
Content Type
Policy Brief
German Development Institute (DIE)
Populism is a style of politics that attacks the existing normative consensus within society, making systematic use of marginalisation and bogeyman tactics. Typical marginalisation strategies target minorities within the population and adopt an anti-scientific world view. Restrictions on civil society are one of the consequences of government action dominated by populism. When it comes to mobilising voters, populists draw upon selected topics which differ according to political camp (left-wing versus right-wing populism) and national context. Nonetheless, it is possible to identify certain patterns of populist expression, such as the practice of contrasting the “people” and their supposed will with an allegedly out-of-touch political “elite”. The values of the population are largely set within the national context, while representatives of the elite are often portrayed as primarily interested in interactions outside of the nation state and thus perceived and characterised as proponents of globalisation. Populist trends can be seen in Western nations, former Eastern Bloc states and countries in the global South. Populist movements pose considerable threats to multilateral efforts aimed at tackling transnational political challenges.
Civil Society, Politics, Populism, Multilateralism
Political Geography
Eastern Europe, Global Focus, Global South