Which country is the most progressive in Europe?
A number of EU countries are currently grappling with the rise of populism, a new study has found.
The study by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) found that across the 27-nation bloc, “the proportion of people identifying themselves as liberal and progressive has risen from 17% in 2016 to 22% in 2020.”
This is up from 14% in 2017, and 12% in 2019.
Meanwhile, the percentage of people who identify themselves as conservative and conservative has declined from 12% to 9% in the same period.
The rise of populist movements across the continent has coincided with a general political shift towards an increasingly right-wing political and social agenda, according to the LSE study.
“The shift in political attitudes has coincided precisely with the increase in populist movements, in particular, with the spread of anti-immigration and anti-EU parties,” said the study’s author, Prof. Nick Cohen.
In the wake of Brexit, which saw a massive influx of migrants and refugees from the Middle East and Africa, “populist parties” were on the rise in many European countries, the report found.
This has led to a number of countries seeing an uptick in populism, as evidenced by a rise in the number of “populations of extreme right and far-right political parties,” the LSEE study noted.
“These parties are gaining traction in several European countries,” it added.
“A new anti-immigrant party, Vlaams Belang, recently won two-thirds of the vote in the Dutch city of Eindhoven, where the anti-Islam PEGIDA protest movement began in the spring of 2017.
These parties have been on the ascendancy in many parts of Europe, including the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy, Austria, Germany, Denmark and Finland.”
The LSEE said that while it was difficult to assess the impact of the populist trends on the country’s political system, it was important to understand their impact on social media and the internet.
“This could have a substantial impact on the electoral landscape,” it warned.
“While the influence of populist parties on the political landscape is likely to remain low, the rise and fall of populism may affect the functioning of the political system.”
The rise in populism is not the only phenomenon affecting Europe’s politics.
In the wake the Brexit vote, several countries have implemented laws that restrict the use of social media to promote their policies, such as banning political parties and even the use or distribution of certain social media platforms.
This has led many to call for a ban on the use and distribution of “fake news” on social networks, such that “the social media landscape becomes more polarised,” Cohen said.
“Such a ban would be a very big deal.”
The study noted that “futurism,” or the use, promotion and distribution in 2017 of certain images, video clips, and images, “is a particularly prominent phenomenon.”
The increase in populism in Europe, the study concluded, was “part of a wider phenomenon of political and ideological polarization in the political space in recent years,” which it called a “significant and worrying development.”
The article “What’s driving populism?” was written by Nick Cohen and published by The Next Word.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.