Now that the French presidential election is over, and Macron, the pro-EU candidate won convincingly, it is time to look more deeply at what this means for politics, participation and democracy in the developed countries.
In the past electoral politics has been shaped along the left-right axis. Nowhere has this been so clear as it was in France and the United States, but in the recent election in France the candidates for the two major old line parties, Les Republicains and the Socialists, did not even make it into the final run off for president. In the United States Donald Trump, the Republican candidate, advocated policies that many Republicans rejected.
There is a realignment of political parties and priorities that is fundamentally changing politics in the developed world that reflects new concerns. The left-right polarization is fast fading. The new polarization is between nationalists and globalists.
The nationalists, politicians like Donald Trump, Marine le Pen and others, are anti-immigration, oppose free trade, advocate tariffs to protect local businesses and workers, and support a number of reactionary policies like being hard on crime, and the rejection of the liberalization of abortion and same sex laws.
The globalists are liberals. They also are pro-business, advocate free trade, international trade agreements, and low tariffs. In Europe and the U.S., they tend to favour a free movement of people. Diversity is a strong value for them.
Immigration is the area that most clearly demarks the difference between the nationalists and the globalists. In both Europe and the United States a significant percentage of the population sees immigrants as a threat to their jobs and security.
On the issue of immigration, the views of Canadians are quite different than virtually any of the other developed countries. Polling shows that about 80% of the people believe that immigrants are a benefit because they help to create new jobs and promote economic development. The ideal of ethnic and racial diversity is strongly supported. The majority of Canadians are clearly in the globalists political camp and that is why there is strong support for liberal politicians and political parties.
But much of this new political polarization designed to capitalize on the fears of people to gain votes. The truth is that immigration is an advantage because they bring young workers to rapidly aging countries in Europe, and globalization does bring risks to many workers and rewards to the economic elite.
The real question is how can people shape their government and create the type of country that reflects their views. The only way we can do this is by promoting a participatory democracy and participatory practices so the people can create the type of policies that that reflects their needs and not the demands of the elite.