The Rise of Authoritarian Populism, as Reflected in the Values Studies


This article is published in Futuribles journal no.443, juillet-août 2021

For more than 35 years Futuribles has taken an interest in how value systems evolve and in the study of their transformation, regularly reporting on the surveys carried out every 9-10 years within the framework of the European Values Study (EVS). The dossier initiated in this issue by Pierre Bréchon covers the findings of the latest round (2017-2018) and what these tell us about long-term developmental trends in Europeans’ values. In this second article, Gilles Ivaldi looks into the rise of authoritarian populism on the Old Continent and what the values studies teach us about the factors driving it at the core of European opinion. He confronts the ‘cultural backlash’ theory developed by Ronald Inglehart and Pippa Norris — which argues that this resurgent populism is the product of a cultural counter-revolution in reaction to the broad spread of liberal values — with the observed development of European values in the various dimensions that serve as indicators (authoritarianism, xenophobia, and traditionalism in mores). As ever, the reality is more complex than it seems, involving a real social demand for authority, a waning of traditional moral values and a growing xenophobia that varies greatly from country to country (Western Europe being distinctly and durably more tolerant than Eastern Europe) etc. He also points to the progressive alignment of the generations on an increased call for authority to be respected. Overall, when the rise of current populisms is examined, a subtle approach is called for, with distinctions being carefully made between geographical areas and the values concerned (private versus public sphere, for example) and generational dynamics being kept in perspective. But we should also not forget the impact of economic factors which also greatly influence opinion, an impact which, as Ivaldi stresses at the end of his article, might well increase in the current context of crisis, a point that the 2017 Values Survey could not take into account…
#Démocratie #Éthique #Europe #Groupes ethniques #Idéologie politique #Intégration sociale #Opinion publique #Système de valeurs