After the Brexit vote in the U.K. which ousted Prime Minister Cameron and Trump’s election in the US – many pundits were wondering if a groundswell of strong-man populism would change expectations of global power and cooperation. There’s some evidence for accelerating rate of change toward nationalism and blunt policy positions while moving away from globalism and tactful diplomacy. Strongman tactics from newly elected Philippine President Duterte look similar to Trump’s M.O. Moreover, the established political leadership is already weakened by a wave of resignations. For instance, South Korean President Park may resign by next April after a scandal. New Zealand PM Key offered a quick timetable for his surprise resignation last week.
Given the volatile environment, the focus switched to Italy and Austria, how the impact of their votes on Sunday would shape the Eurozone and what it might mean for the struggle between globalism and nationalism.
Let’s start with Italy’s referendum vote on Sunday. Italy’s referendum would have large implications for the country whether it passed or failed because it was framed as a de facto presidential election (more accurately, an election for their Prime Minister). Anti establishment Italian PM Matteo Renzi said that his referendum (meant to reform the slow global bureaucracy of the Eurozone and Italian legislature and concentrate power to his executive office) would either pass or he would resign. It didn’t pass. Renzi decided on Monday to resign, acting as a steward until a successor is named.
Then, there was a bona-fide Presidential election in Austria. Austria’s answer to Donald Trump, Norbert Hofer, lost their presidential election last Sunday. Hofer’s anti-immigration and anti-establishment stances registered with 46.4% of the country, but not quite enough to take their presidency.
Put simply, that’s two votes for the establishment on Sunday. Is populist fervor slowing down?