Great Decisions: The Rise of Populism in Europe


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.

Great Decisions: Dr. Richard Millett Discusses U.S. Relationship with Mexico

One of the most talked about bilateral relationships since 2016 has been the U.S. relationship with Mexico.  On April 18, Professor, Author and Perry Award for Excellence in Security and Defense Education recipient Dr. Richard Millett discussed the history of U.S. relations with Mexico as well as where he sees this vital relationship heading amid the tense political climate in the U.S.  Not surprisingly, immigration was a prevalent topic and found Dr. Millett disagreeing with the current administration’s belief that building a wall will solve all of our immigration issues.

Also stressed was the importance of improving economic conditions in not only Mexico but other Latin American countries, specifically those in the Northern Triangle (Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala).  A huge reason so many people in these countries are heading north, Dr. Millett argued, is due to the rampant violence in their own countries.  These individualsIMG_0126 are doing what they must in order to protect and provide for their families.  Dr. Millett also showed how many of the most pertinent issues facing Latin America are connected to one another and that in order to solve one problem, another may have to be solved first.

Please join us this Thursday, April 25 at the Ethical Society of St. Louis for what will be the final Great Decisions lecture of the year when Dr. Costas Azariadis, Professor of Economics at Washington University, presents on the rise of populism in Europe.