A discussion on leaders and populism with Lord Patten, Gideon Rachman, Margaret MacMillan and Ricardo Soares de Oliveira
Since the beginning of the millennium, when Vladimir Putin took power in Russia, authoritarian leaders have come to dominate global politics.
Self-styled strongmen have risen to power in Moscow, Beijing, Delhi, Brasilia, Budapest, Ankara, Riyadh and Washington. These leaders are nationalists and social conservatives, with little tolerance for minorities, dissent or the interests of foreigners. At home, they encourage a cult of personality and claim to stand up for ordinary people against globalist elites; abroad, they posture as the embodiments of their nations. And they are not just operating in authoritarian political systems but have begun to emerge in the heartlands of liberal democracy.
This panel’s distinguished speakers will address the following questions: How and why did this new style of strongman leadership arrive? How likely is it to lead to global war or economic collapse? Most pressingly, we will be asking: are liberal societies, beset by internal turmoil and their own strongman dynamics, capable of checking and reversing this trend?
This was a joint event with the Oxford Martin Programme on African Governance.