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Festival of Ideas

Are We Losing the Battle for Democracy? Ece Temelkuran

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Populism and nationalism don’t march fully-formed into government; they creep.

Is democracy in serious decline? Is dictatorship on the rise? Could it happen here? If so – how do we spot the signs? Ece Temelkuran, one of Turkey’s best-known political commentators, has reported on democracy worldwide. She heard ‘it couldn’t happen here’ on the night of the Brexit vote; when Trump won in America (against chants of ‘Build that Wall’ and ‘Lock her up’); and when Erdoğan rigged elections, rebuilt the economy around cronyism, and labelled his opposition as terrorists in Turkey. The wave has continued with a populist government elected in Italy and severe restrictions on democracy and freedom in Hungary and Poland.

Temelkuran offers a guide to spotting the insidious patterns and mechanisms of the populist wave sweeping the globe – before it’s too late. She identifies the early-warning signs of this phenomenon, which is sprouting up across the world from the West and Eastern Europe to South America, defining a global pattern and providing solutions to reversing this.

This event was part of the annual Coleridge Series, inspired by Coleridge’s wide-ranging and radical lectures in Bristol in the 1790s.

Image credit: Muhsin Akgun.

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