SPREADING POLITICS OF POPULISM IN WESTERN DEMOCRACIES: SOCIAL-GEOGRAPHIC ANALYSIS OF THE US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION 2016
Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Kyiv, Ukraine
Electoral developments of the recent years reveal a clear trend of right-wing populist political movements gaining ever stronger support in the number of Western countries usually referred to as consolidated democracies. Unexpected victory of Donald Trump at both the Republican Party primaries and the national election 2016 in the USA is an especially striking example considering the provoking nature of his campaign widely accused of being populist and appealing to right-wing nationalist (racist) sentiments. Even more surprising was the level of support he gained among those categories of voters, who were expected to be his strongest opponents.
The article employs social context analysis as a tool for better understanding of the success Trump’s campaign has achieved in traditionally liberal states such as the Rust Belt in the north of the US or latino-dominated Florida. Tracing the evolution of the liberal-conservative split of the US society from the second half of the XXth century till present one can observe that traditional for the Democratic Party campaigning focus on race, gender and social justice issues coupled with the stress on foreign policy failed to appeal to the party’s base electorate. On the other hand, addressing the issues, which have, for a while now, been politically incorrect for open political debate, has helped the Trump’s team to really consolidate conservative supporters making him unexpectedly successful among his rivals from the Republican Party.
The case of the 2016 United States presidential election reveals that both liberal and conservative political elites have lost track of what really concerned the society thus allowing populist campaign to become successful where it was the least expected. Based on the electoral analysis of the United States of America, the paper argues that the crises of political elites losing their connection to their base electorate thus disrupting the efficiency of democratic representation constitutes the underlying reason for the worldwide rise of populist political parties and movements.
electoral geography, right-wing populism, western democracies, US presidential election.
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Braychevskyy Y. (2017) Spreading politics of populism in western democracies: social-geographic analysis of the US presidential election 2016. Visnyk Kyivskogo natsionalnogo universytetu, Geografiya [Bulletin of Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Geography], 3-4 (68-69), 144-151 (in Ukrainian, abstr. in English).