EEAG Report 2017: Martin Meyer

The Board President, Swiss Institute for Foreign Research (SIAF) Zurich University, spoke at the EEAG Report 2017: Populism and Economic Policy, hosted by the Swiss Re Institute.

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Many people are somehow bothered by what's going on in the world and simplifications are always easy to grasp. So you get them and you think, "Okay, this populism, these populist leaders, we can do policy even easier than before." And there of course are fears like migration, refugees, all these kind of stuff, economy is in a very uncertain state, and then of course we also have the aspect of terrorism. This all together gives a background and a ground to foster populist feelings and of course also populist leaders which is very dangerous.

The worst case scenario of course that's possibly a kind of re-nationalism which even goes to dictatorships, authoritarian regimes, which we have known in the history of Europe quite a lot. Actually democracy, peace, freedom, free markets, that's a small, I would say, a small part of the history of Europe. But we always had other parts of the history of Europe with, as I mentioned, dictatorships, and this would be of course extremely unwelcome and those are dangers for Europe and the rest of the world absolutely.

The elites have to work on how they get closer to people, how they make them understand what's really going on in the very complex world. So this is kind of a translation work also and getting closer to the whole of the society. As soon as a society has so different levels of people, of education, of whatever, then it gets a really problem to bring that together and not to split them. So the elites have to do their homework better in the future and to explain also better the real problems of the world.