After years of simmering disenchantment with status quo politics, “2016 was a watershed” for populist parties and movements, says Yascha Mounk, a political theorist at Harvard University. Major democracies have seen movements that challenge democratic norms and institutions score victories at the ballot box amid rising economic anxieties and mass migration. Meanwhile, leaders in Hungary and Russia have modeled an alternative to the liberal democratic order that has predominated since the end of the Cold War, says Mounk, who holds fellowships at the German Marshall Fund and New America Foundation. The trend toward populist politics “is seemingly still accelerating,” he says, as the coming year is set to bring at least three elections in Europe.
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