As the last lecture of the Great Decisions series on April 25, Dr. Costas Azairiadas, Professor of Economics at Washington University in St. Louis, spoke about how recent changes in Europe have led to a rise in populism. He emphasized how drastic changes to the world have left citizens on edge, hoping for a return to stability which many populist leaders promise.
Using history as an example, Dr. Azairiadas explained that populist leaders would not call themselves populists, as the term usually has a negative connotation. However, these leaders appeal to the masses by promising them a voice in the government and solutions to the issues they see in their everyday lives.
In Europe, there have been many changes that are shifting the way that people work and live. First, refugees from Africa have flooded into many southern European countries at the same time that unemployment for young people is at an all time high. Furthermore, technology is changing life as they know it. Therefore, these changes make people worried, leading them to support populist leaders.
Dr. Azairiadas completed his lecture by drawing a comparison to the changes that are happening in the United States today. Although he was reluctant to make predictions, he does believe that populist leaders will affect the future of U.S. politics as well.
Thank you to all of those who have attended the Great Decisions Lecture Series this year. Although this completes the series, please join us for future World Affairs Council of St. Louis events. More details can be found on our website.