Two weeks ago Italy voted to reject constitutional reforms proposed by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
This defeat led to Renzi’s immediate resignation, paving the way for the popular right-wing Five Star Movement to fill the political void in an early election.
While this may have been expected to cause shock waves through Europe, the defeat has been met with little fanfare in a year which has seen the rise of populist movements the world over.
Beginning with Brexit and the resignation of David Cameron in June. Then culminating with Donald Trump’s improbable victory in the US Presidential Election, 2016 has been a breakthrough year for nationalist ideology.
Stoked mainly through the immigration crisis in Syria and other war-torn Middle Eastern nations, the right has dominated the political landscape by playing to their strengths of fear of the other.
Who else will keep a countries citizens safe in such a time of terror, while protecting the ideals and sovereignty of the nation?
History has shown that a nationalist agenda can find fertile ground in uncertain times. For example, Adolf Hitler’s rise to power was built on a nation afraid and struggling to come to terms with its place in the world after the First World War.
While it is unfair to compare the fledgeling movement started by Trump in America to the brutal regime which led to the Holocaust in Hitler’s Germany, parallels can be drawn between the way they rose to power promising to restore the nation to its perceived former greatness.
The fact that the populist right or the alt-right movement as it has come to be known, has a clear message may be their most appealing attribute when it comes to jaded voters the world over.
Contrast this with the seemingly directionless campaign run by the Democrats trying to get Hillary Clinton elected as the first woman President of the United States, and the reasons for the power shift become clearer.
The slogan “I’m With Her” told us nothing of the parties convictions or plans for the future, throughout the campaign Clinton often seemed to really be running for a third term of the Obama administration rather than her own ideas or values.
This is not to say that the Democrats didn’t have their own populist candidate with a clear vision for radical change that would have offered a progressive agenda in direct contrast to that of Trump.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders came from nowhere to mount a real challenge to the seeming inevitability of Clinton’s coronation as the Democratic nominee. If it wasn’t for the biased that was shown against Sanders in leaked DNC emails, he may have gone on to win the nomination and provide a lot stiffer competition against the Republicans in the Presidential Election.
Going forward, 2017 will be a pivotal year as the ramifications of political decisions made this year begin to take effect.
My hope is that the progressive left the world over learns from its mistakes and begins to wake up to the fact voters are sick of corrupt business as usual politics and politicians, offering up hopeful alternatives before the negative ideologies of divisiveness and fear truly take hold.