IN MANY democracies in the world today, voters are choosing as their leaders either from the far Left or the far Right.
In Europe, far Right parties oppose migrants, especially Muslims, and the European Union. Norbert Hofer, of the anti-migrant right-wing Freedom Party would have won the presidential election in Austria, if not for Alexander Van der Bellen, a left-wing candidate who was backed by the Green party. The Freedom Party that holds 40 of the 189 seats in the National Council, was founded by former Nazis and Teutonic nationalists. In Poland, the right-wing Law and Justice Party is regaining its foothold in government under Jaroslaw Kaczynski.
Other rising right-wing parties are: Jobbik, anti-immigration, populist and economic protectionist party in Hungary; white-supremacist Sweden Democrats Party; neo-fascist Golden Dawn Party in Greece; the National Front founded by Nazi collaborators in France; and the anti-establishment, anti-European Alternative for Germany Party in Germany.
In the US, presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who is anti-immigrant, could well bond with the far Right of Europe.
In South America, far Left parties have been dominant with the hovering shadows of icons such as Cuba’s Fidel Castro and the late Hugo Chavez. The company of left-wing leaders include Daniel Ortega (Nicaragua); Michelle Bachelet (Chile); Danilo Medina (Dominican Republic); Nicolas Maduro (Venezuela); Evo Morales (Bolivia) and Luis Guillermo Solis (Costa Rica). Honduras, Ecuador, El Salvador and Peru are in the same boat.
The Left in South America promote anti-American sentiment and pro-nationalist policies, leaning toward populist and socialist practices.
In the past decades, Southeast Asia has seen stable democracies as strongman leaders including Ferdinand Marcos, Suharto and Mahatmir Mohamad fell out of grace. Myanmar and Cambodia have taken their cue, as the communist parties in Vietnam and China have balanced political control with economic freedom.
But two countries in Southeast Asia seem to have shifted toward the populist, if not Left of center ideology. Indonesia’s Jokowi Widodo emerged under a “new politics” stance vis-à-vis the old politics of generals and dynasties. He put forward his three priorities: maintaining Indonesia’s sovereignty, enhancing the protection of Indonesian citizens, and intensifying economic diplomacy.
In the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, like Widodo, was elected on the promise of change from corruption, criminality and poverty. The tough-talking president-elect though has taken left-leaning ideologues on board his Cabinet, to the discomfort of some.
These are interesting times in the world of politics and ideologies and developments in the Philippines will be a good study.