Benjamin Netanyahu is set to become Israel’s next prime minister after the country’s current leader Yair Lapid conceded. Netanyahu’s return to power comes a year after he was ousted over allegations of corruption and bribery. He made his comeback by forming the most right-wing coalition in the country’s history.
“Netanyahu, who's corrupt and has been credibly accused of corruption, is coming back, linking himself to these extreme, far right, ultra-nationalist leaders. And what we can expect is a shaping of Israeli policy where non-Jewish citizens are second-class citizens,” says Yale professor Jason Stanley.
Netanyahu’s victory comes as Brazil’s leftist leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (also known as Lula) barely beat the far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro. The far right has also made gains in unexpected countries, such as Sweden, Norway, and Switzerland. In the U.S., republicans are expected to win back the House in the midterms. Why are voters across the globe flocking toward right-wing populists?
Some voters are hungry for safety and stability during turbulent times, Stanley says.
“When there's massive change, generational conflict, social and economic inequality, there's a chance to make things better, or there's a chance to get back at your enemy, at minorities … that kind of politics wins again and again.”
As a result, voters become attracted to strongman politicians who believe in a “law and order” approach.
“What law and order means for far right, ethnonationalists is not the same as rule of law. For far right ethnonationalism, law and order means one set of laws for them and another set of laws for us. They are criminals by nature,” Stanley explains.
Even countries that are relatively well-off, such as Sweden or Switzerland, are not immune. Stanley says that’s because the country’s population has diversified and some groups of people are threatened by that. Politicians then use that discomfort to their advantage.
“White Swedes are no longer everything. They have to give a little bit of power. Men have to give a little bit of power to women. These changes bring with them cultural dislocation that results in backlash,” Stanley says. “It's not merely economic. Racial backlash is real. And we see that again and again in the United States, where every time there's a movement for Black equality, there's a harsh, white backlash.”