protests in France Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images

Dompter le populisme

MADRID – Dans nombre de démocraties occidentales, les populistes de droite, galvanisés par leurs victoires autoproclamées sur les « élites du système », doublent la mise lorsqu’ils dénoncent la mondialisation, à la source, selon eux, des maux de leurs concitoyens. Chez ceux dont le niveau de vie stagne ou baisse depuis plusieurs décennies tandis que leurs dirigeants politiques vantent la libéralisation des échanges et des flux de capitaux comme la recette universelle de la prospérité, l’argument fait mouche. On doit donc le combattre franchement.

Certes, le rejet de la mondialisation ne se nourrit pas que de frustrations économiques : le populisme a gagné des pays où le taux de chômage est bas et où les revenus sont en hausse. Mais les déceptions accumulées offrent aux politiciens populistes le fond de vérité dont ils ont besoin pour attirer le chaland, qu’ils tentent alors de retenir à grand renfort d’exagérations et de déformations. Si les questions économiques ne sont pas résolues, les soutiens dont jouissent ces politiciens se multiplieront, risquant de ramener en arrière les sociétés où ils ont désormais droit de cité, vers des temps moins tolérants – mais aussi moins prospères. 

Les Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen et consorts ne sont pas parvenus à prendre pied par hasard dans la vie politique de leur pays – quand ils ne menacent pas d’y prendre le pouvoir. Ils ont exploité le sentiment que partagent nombre de leurs concitoyens d’avoir été abandonnés par une classe politique qui n’a cessé de vanter la mondialisation tout en laissant se développer les inégalités à des niveaux sans précédents.

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