How strong are Europe’s checks and balances when it comes to populism?
As nationalist and xenophobic parties make gains in a growing number of countries challenging elites and exploiting public anxieties over migration, Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland, in his 2017 report on the state of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, invites Council of Europe member states to take a serious look in the mirror and take the lead in building trusted institutions and inclusive societies able to withstand populist assaults.
We cannot blame our populist problems exclusively on the most incendiary leaders or parties, nor simply on the rise of fake news. Their actions are deeply irresponsible and it is true that many exploit the internet to spread misinformation. But they thrive most easily where people have lost trust in their governments, parliaments and courts; where critical journalism and NGOs already struggle to be heard; where minorities have not been integrated into wider society; and where large numbers of citizens feel deprived of opportunities.
Democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Europe (2017) – a report by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe