Question Darius Politics & International Relations

Parallels between Brexit and the 2016 US election

How markedly close are the parallels between Brexit and the US Donald Trump Victory?

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Answer Expert #5515

It can be argued that Brexit and the election of Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States have been two of the most politically contentious events of 2016. It can also be cogently argued that they both share similarities in terms of the reasons for such voting behaviour. Both elections have been construed as a response by disaffected sections of the population of each country against what is perceived to be a corrupt political elite which has become out of touch with the needs of the working class. Both campaigns have been predicated on nationalistic, populist themes which emphasise taking back control of the country. It can also, however, be argued that the voters have been manipulated towards protesting against stereotypical scapegoats rather than the true cause of their sense of outrage. In both countries, there has been a marked reduction in the standard of living among some sections of society. It can be argued that these economic woes have been caused by the globalised, neoliberal policies that have been pursued by each country since the 1980s. They have had the effect of introducing a flexible labour market that has lowered wages, created job insecurity and increased the levels of inequality. The trend towards deregulation was also partly responsible for the financial crisis of 2008 and the resulting policy of austerity in the UK. However, populist leaders have been successfully able to deflect blame away from the true cause and towards other areas such as the EU and the principle of free movement in the UK, and free trade and Mexican immigrants in the case of the US. The results have been in both instances increasingly divided and intolerant societies.