Pub Talk in Public: How Trump and European Nationalists Test Democracy

By Stephan Manning.

The political climate in the U.S. and Western Europe is changing dramatically – authoritarian populists are on the rise: Donald Trump keeps winning primaries and is likely to become the Republican U.S. presidential candidate. At the same time, nationalist parties are gaining ground across Europe. Recent example: The ‘Alternative for Germany’ (AfD), a populist right-wing party that campaigns against refugees, climbed from zero to double-digit percentage figures in the latest state elections. Supporters of Trump and European right-wing populist parties have several things in common: they are mostly male, yet rather diverse in terms of age and socio-economic status; they are not loyal to any political party, yet concerned about order and national identity; they are anti-establishment and include many prior non-voters. For example, in the German state Saxony-Anhalt, the AfD received a record-breaking 24% of votes mainly thanks to prior non-voters making up 40% of their votes. Trump is betting on such voters as well, and according to him, his supporters will start ‘riots’ if the Republican National Convention blocks his nomination. Where does this nationalist movement against the establishment come from? What drives prior non-voters to ballot boxes in favor of authoritarian leadership? And what does that mean for democracy?

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Terrorists: Some you see, some you don’t

By Banu Ozkazanc-Pan.

The recent bombings and acts of terror in Boston left hundreds wounded, dozens disabled, and four dead. These events elicited a spectrum of responses including outrage, fear, elation, grieving, and nationalism and reignited debate over ‘good’ versus ‘bad’ immigrants. Such reactions to terrorism may seem natural but raise interesting questions–why are the events in Boston conceptualized as terrorists attacking the U.S. when the unceremonious death or capture of other mass murderers in the U.S. do not invoke nationalism?  Why did people chant “USA, USA, USA” in response to the death of Bin Laden and after the capture of Dzokhar Tsarnaev but not after the capture of Jared Lee Loughner? Are these events equivalent? To understand these reactions, we have to consider why certain people are labeled terrorists, how violent attacks are seen in the U.S., and how assumptions about terrorism lead to calls for armed interventions in different parts of the world and at home.  One way to examine these questions is to focus on identities. Continue reading