A vendor sells inflatable dolls depicting former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images

Why Economic Recovery Won’t Defeat Populism

During the last few years, a lively debate has taken place between advocates of economic and political/social explanations of populism. The issue is far from settled, but even if the economic explanation is right, it does not follow that the current global recovery will make much of a political difference.

SANTIAGO – Markets, like the pundits meeting in Davos this week, are hopeful: the world economy is well on its way toward a balanced and perhaps sustained recovery. With the economy on the mend, will politics follow suit?

For people who view the surge in populism around the world as an aftershock of the global financial crisis, the answer is yes. As unemployment falls and middle-class incomes begin growing, the populist temptation will wither, or so they hope.

If only it were that simple.