The rise of populism is a problem of the West, and not only European, and results from globalization and digitization, which created a system close to direct democracy, defended today in Lisbon Social Democrat MEP Paulo Rangel.
"I think it is wrong to analyze everywhere, especially in Europe, that the political crisis has its roots in the European Union itself, in its parties, in its institutions, […] on a somewhat imperial and somewhat federal idea of Europe, "Rangel told an audience of Portuguese and Spanish students gathered in Lisbon for the" Europe School "organized by the European People's Party (PPE), of which he is vice-president.
"These two major changes have created a gap between two large groups of people: […] the info-included, integrated in this revolution, and the info-excluded, forgotten by that great group, "he said.
He gave as an example, on the one hand, "young people who are losing something, earn 500 or 600 euros, but feel included because their dream is cosmopolitanism" and, on the other hand, "people, often older, who use everything but are not comfortable with development. "
In his view, this "socio-political-economic-cultural analysis" explains British voters' support for Brexit, but also the election of Donald Trump in the United States, and other cases of the rise of populism.
Politically, he continued, "the technological revolution" paved the way for "a system very close to direct democracy," in which each one decides according to his interest because he does not represent others, but only himself.
"And this is completely different from the representative system. […] in which I represent the interest of the community, "he said.
This system has been growing with the loss of prestige of political parties, especially due to cases of corruption, and the media, which together have eliminated political mediation and social mediation.
With social networks, he explained, "there was the illusion of direct democracy," in which everyone thinks "that he is actively participating, changing history with his word".
"But it's an illusion, because what's changing is the Facebook algorithm. It is a mediation, but a mediation that is neither transparent nor visible. And so we are moving from direct democracy to demagoguery, "he said.
The response of the European parties to this growing demagogy, Paulo Rangel advanced in response to students' questions, is to "revolutionize communication".
We have [de ter] a plan for communication that is needed and that I think is easy: look at populist politicians who succeed and copy their example of communication. Reaching people with a simple message, "he said.