Evan Davis

Evan Davis on political populism

The economist and BBC broadcaster Evan Davis visited Sevenoaks yesterday to talk to the Lower Sixth about political populism, which he defined as ‘the politics of policies that sound appealing to the general public, but which defy experts’ opinions’.

Using Trump’s election to the US presidency and the Brexit vote as examples, Davis explained why populist politicians have become increasingly successful among contemporary voters. Over the past 50 years, the power in the global economy has shifted to metropolitan cities such as London and New York, leaving other voters discontented.

These economic divisions became increasingly fraught in 2008 with the financial crisis and halt in income growth. People voted for Trump or Brexit to express their anger at the economic and political system, and, in the case of some white male voters, to demonstrate resentment at the liberal establishments’ focus on minority groups. Such economic and social divisions predisposed people to believe populist exaggerations, such as the claim that EU membership was costing us millions of pounds.

Davis concluded that, in order to improve public discourse and world politics, we first need to heal the divisions in society, by respecting other people’s points of view and calmly putting forward our own.

Juliette Imbert, L6

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