Leon Runje ORCID logo 0000-0002-9776-938X

c/o University of Zagreb, Faculty of Political Science
Zagreb, Croatia

INDECS 16(3-B), 446-451, 2018
DOI 10.7906/indecs.16.3.16
Full text available here.

Received: 9th May 2018.
Accepted: 24th September 2018.
Regular article


This article posits the thesis that the development of protectionist populism in Europe has been significantly influenced by two important economic processes. The cause of the first process can be found in the collapse of the Bretton Woods system and the resulting move towards an increased mobility of capital flows. Secondly, globalization of labour is identified as the other important process behind this phenomenon. The first part of the article provides a definition of the term protectionist populism. Following this, the relevance of many cultural factors in the development of protectionist populism is recognized. It is further stated that these factors are beyond the scope of this article and that its aim is primarily to show that economic factors have had an undeniable impact in their own right. Consequently, the article goes on to demonstrate how the fall of the Bretton Woods system in the 1970's produced the liberalization of capital controls. Furthermore, the article shows how the interaction between mobile capital and globalized labour produced the "global middle class". The article discusses the negative effects that this had on the middle class in Europe. In its final part, the link between these economic processes and the rise of populist movements in Europe is demonstrated. This is done by analysing the literature dealing with the rhetoric employed by populist parties. The article concludes by affirming the initial thesis regarding the existence of a link between the collapse of the Bretton Woods system and the globalization of the labour market with the rise of protectionist populist movements in Europe without asserting their preeminence over cultural factors.


global financial crisis, protectionism, global middle class, populism, Bretton Woods system



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