US Secretary of State John Kerry today warned of “the danger of authoritarian populism” sweeping many Western democracies and cautioned against backsliding on basic freedoms.
“Every chip away at the fundamentals of freedom is actually an ugly building block in the road to tyranny,” he told a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE):
Kerry was speaking at an OSCE meeting focused on rising east-west tensions since Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, but also on a rise in populist and far-right movements across Europe, a spike in refugee flows from the Arab world, and Western concern about growing authoritarianism in Turkey.
“In too many places … in the OSCE region, we have seen in recent days a rise of authoritarian thinking, accompanied by backsliding on human rights, on restrictions on independent media, a spike in acts of intolerance and hate crimes,” Kerry said, bemoaning a “troubling shift away from democratic principles, away from openness, away from freedom”.
Such developments as “growing corruption… increasing authoritarianism, moves by certain leaders to change constitutions in an effort to consolidate power, false news being spread through new platforms of the media, torture being actually advocated in certain quarters” represent “a direct assault on the founding principles of the OSCE,” he said.
“Bigotry, repression and the silencing of dissent cannot become the new normal for any of us.” RTWT
Seven essays under the heading “The Specter Haunting Europe” address the growing threats to Europe’s liberal democracies, in the latest issue of the National Endowment for Democracy’s Journal of Democracy.