Understanding the differences of populism phenomenon within Australia, and Asian Countries
Table of Contents
TOC o “1-3” Chapter 1: Introduction PAGEREF _Toc452328777 h 3
1.1. General Introduction PAGEREF _Toc452328778 h 3
1.2. Populism & Its Background PAGEREF _Toc452328779 h 4
1.4. Research Purpose & Questions PAGEREF _Toc452328780 h 6
1.6.1. Key Assumptions PAGEREF _Toc452328781 h 7
Chapter 2: Literature Review PAGEREF _Toc452328782 h 8
2.2. Review of Literature PAGEREF _Toc452328783 h 8
Chapter 3: Methodology PAGEREF _Toc452328784 h 11
3.1. Research Design PAGEREF _Toc452328785 h 11
3.1.1. Rational for Cross-sectional Study Design PAGEREF _Toc452328786 h 11
3.2. Research Hypotheses PAGEREF _Toc452328787 h 12
3.3. Setting/Sample & Population PAGEREF _Toc452328788 h 12
3.4. Data Collection Methods and Tools PAGEREF _Toc452328789 h 12
3.4. Secondary data Review PAGEREF _Toc452328790 h 13
3.4. Sampling Method PAGEREF _Toc452328791 h 13
3.4.1. Sample size Determination PAGEREF _Toc452328792 h 13
3.5. Data Quality Management Controls PAGEREF _Toc452328793 h 14
3.5.1 Quantitative Data Management Process PAGEREF _Toc452328794 h 14
3.6. Ethical Considerations PAGEREF _Toc452328795 h 14
3.7. Data Analysis PAGEREF _Toc452328796 h 15
Chapter 4: Findings PAGEREF _Toc452328797 h 16
4.0. Findings PAGEREF _Toc452328798 h 16
Chapter 5: Discussion and Suggestions for Further Research PAGEREF _Toc452328799 h 23
References PAGEREF _Toc452328800 h 28
Understanding the differences of populism phenomenon within Australia, and Asian Countries
Chapter 1: Introduction1.1. General Introduction
Australia is among the long-standing nations with a political system based on liberal democracy. The country has been lauded for continued support and championing of religious tolerance and the fundamental freedom of speech, association and other human rights as well as civil liberties. Australia, just like most democratically governed nations, is governed based on the constitution, which set out the roles and responsibilities of the citizens as well as the governing structures. The power structure is split into three including the executive, the Judiciary and the legislature. The country’s political system is based on three levels including the federal government, the State and territory government and the local government. Additionally, the Australian liberal democratic political system operates a two party system whereby voting is mandatory for all legible citizens. One of the unique characteristics of Australian political system compared to other nations like USA and European countries is that it is majorly ideologically driven.
On the other hand, the political systems in Asian countries differ. They range from one party states, federal states, dependent territories, military dictatorships, liberal democracies, and absolute monarchies among other systems. These differences in political systems have continued to structure the kinds of relationships between the Asian countries and the rest of the world. Continued mixed feelings of hostility and or closeness witnessed in parts of Asia for example can be attributed to the distinctive differences in political ideologies and practices. Taiwan currently practices a democratic political system where a high degree of freedom is assured. This freedom has not however not there since the country’s founding struggles. Taiwan has been through a brutal military dictatorship and an on going sovereignty struggle with China over its legitimacy as an independent state. Similarly, Philippines is a constitutional republic having a presidential system based on democratic political system. The Philippine presidential system functions with the president as the voice of the state and government. The president serves a six-year tem. Also, India is another populous Asian county with a democratic parliamentary government system. The country is known as a secular federal republic with a multi-party system.
Even though these Asian countries have democratic governing systems, each country has distinct approach to the populism phenomenon that has been rising across the globe.
1.2. Populism & Its BackgroundPopulism is a political phenomenon that is based on the need to appeal to the rights and needs of the common people who feel that the established, social, economic and political elite groups ignore their plight. The phenomenon thrives on the principle power in numbers and the appeal to majority idealistic representation. Simply put, populism is basically the ideological politics of “us versus them” approach to governance and democracy. Finchelstein & Urbinati, (2018), defines populism as a political form of government located between constitutional governance and dictatorship. It is arguable that the success of populist politicians and parties is their strategic positioning as the representatives of the majority who stand for what is morally good versus the elites who are perceived as morally corrupted, disingenuous and self serving.
Even though the concept of populism has been in existence since late 19th century, the recent political developments across the globe has sparked heated debate and research to understand this phenomenon further. The election of Donald Trump as the current president of the United States can be further credited with this peaked interest in understanding populism and how it works in the contemporary global political systems. Furthermore, the popularity of populism across the globe can be tied to increasing economic and political discrimination and marginalization of the needs and expectations of the common majority by the political and economic elites who champion individual interests at the expense of common good. Populist politicians exploit the disconnection between the needs of the majority and the practices of the elite to appeal to the people and position themselves as the voice of reason and common good of all. Additionally, even though populism is presented across as a global pro democratic movement, the levels of expression and outcome are significantly dependent on identity politics, individual political strategies and the changing social political and economic phenomena.
1.3. Issue Statement
Populism phenomenon has been increasing across the globe has resulted in the development and implementation of unrealistic policies with severely adverse political and economic consequences. Studies conducted over the years to understand contemporary forms of populism have pointed out one common characteristic; always championed by charismatic individuals who strategically position themselves as the voice of the people by pitting up the political and economic disadvantaged majority against the elites. Additionally, most of these studies however have been expanded towards understanding the spread and popularity of populism from the populist politician’s perspectives with very minimal emphasis on the role of the people or subjects upon which the populist ideologies are reflected from. This study takes a broadened approach towards understanding the proliferation of populism in Asia and Australia by seeking to understand the role of the common majority and the implications of this phenomenon in terms of the extents of social, political and economic disconnection.
1.4. Research Purpose & QuestionsThe purpose of this study therefore is to investigate the relationship between public perceptions of social, political and economic systems and institutions and the rise of populism in Asia and Australia. The study will establish the levels of trust and contentment with political systems and institutions as a measure of vulnerability to populist ideologies through surveys and interview, and conduct a comparative analysis to measure the significance of levels of perception and the success of populist politics across Asia and Australia. The study process will be aimed at answering by the following objective questions:
How contented are the common people with political systems and institutions across Asian countries Compared to Australia?
What is the corelation between public perception about political systems, and institutions and the sucess of populism and populist politoicians in Asian Countries compared to Asutralia?
How different is the populism phenomenon in Asian countries compared to Australia?
How has populism developed in Asia compared to Australia?
Negative public perception and trust in a country’s social, political and economic systems have been found to represent greater levels of discontentment and dissociation from constructive civic engagement (Hüther & Diermeier, 2019). Furthermore, the rise of populist politicians has been observed to create the resultant effect of runaway corruption, human rights abuses and unintended economic destabilization and this is becoming an increasing concern for many developed nations across the globe including America and the European democracies (Clercy, 2020; Martinelli, 2018; Steger, 2019). Gao, (2015), further points out that in a country where the populous majority feel that their needs and expectations are not politically represented, they become increasingly suspicious and rebellious towards public institutions and political systems and this fuels conflict and political dissent which is exploited by populists to gain traction. Understanding the underlying correlation between public perception and trust in the political systems and the proliferation of populist ideologies in Asia and Australia will create an opportunity for governments and political parties to improve on public civic participation and democratic inclusion as well as understanding the significance of changing trends in political systems within regional contexts.
1.6. Limitations & Assumptions
1.6.1. Key AssumptionsThe key assumptions underlying this research study include the assumptions that:
All participants interviewed understood the concept of populism and how it operates
The participants who filled the questionnaires were objective, honest and transparent about their views and opinions
The Phenomenon of populism can be studied objectively
The study process is independent of the researcher biases through the use of questionnaires hence researcher in no way intereferered with the outcome.
Chapter 2: Literature Review2.1. Description of literature search
This chapter explores existing related literature about the concept of populism and how this phenomenon is impacting global social, economic and political structures. As part of secondary data collection, the researcher reviewed a number of article journals and books as well as Internet based resources about the evolution of populism in Asia and Australia populism, and how the interactions it correlates with public perception.
2.2. Review of LiteratureScholarly studies into the phenomenon of populism have been slow over the years until the beginning of the late 21st century when it became evident in mainstream global politics. According to Della Porta, Diani & Roberts, (2015), populism refers to the political mobilization of the common population against established elites. Populism is constructed on foundation of appeal to public understanding and perception about certain societal moral constructs and expectations. The debate about the origin and success of populism continues, it is agreeable that the fundamental foundation of this phenomenon lies in the understanding of global problems and the long standing challenges of how to address them which has continued to create division and disconnect among the common people and the elites. Hadiz & Chryssogelos, (2017), in their research study exploring populism in world politics, acknowledge that the phenomenon has become popular globally largely as a reaction to social disconnections tied to the vital processes of neoliberal globalization. They further assert that because of the resultant shortfalls of democracy, social conflicts have continued to intensify across the globe as a result of broken promises of liberalization and economic freedoms.
The phenomenon of populism is complex and constantly shifting. Clercy, (2020), reviewed the evolution of populism in North America and Europe and noted that the existing forms of populism known currently significantly differ from those of the earlier decades since the concept was introduced in the political society.
Similarly, the evolution of populism in Asia and Australia has taken this same route, spreading to all spheres including social, cultural, religious and economic spheres. Webb & Curato, (2018), using Philippines as a casing example, describe the evolution of populism in Asia as a process that began with the concept of nationalism and the belief in power to the people. The forms of populism practiced today are far from what it was known to be (Rhodes-Purdy, 2019). Contemporary populism and populist politicians thrive by creating attention-seeking spectacles that demonize elements they deem as threats to their existence and success. A good example is in Asian Countries is the rise of Philippines president Duterte who has thrown all caution to the wind with regards to democratic and constitutionalized governance.
The rise of populism in Australia on the other hand has not been too pronounced like in Asian countries like Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan and India. Some scholars argue that the rise of populism is attributable to the liberal democracy’s failure to match the idealized narrative with everyday realities of life for the common populous majority. According to Snow & Moffitt, (2012), Populism the evolution of populism in Australia though slow, has been based on the populists ideologies and treatment of contentious societal challenges such as immigration, multiculturalism, criminal justice among other popular subjects. Populist politicians propose populist policies addressing these issues to satisfy the expectations of rival wings of their political parties especially the neoliberals and the social conservatives (Mueller, 2017; Pepinsky, 2019). The rise in populist’s politics is partly responsible for the increased long-term transformation of modern party democratic approaches including the cartelization of party political systems (Bickerton & Invernizzi Accetti, 2017). With this broadened conceptual understanding, Rummens, (2017), further argue that even though liberal democracy and populism are both committed to the ideology of popular sovereignty, populist ideologies often represent the underlying gaps in the country’s liberal democratic systems. These findings paint populism as a threat rather than a corrective complement to democracy. Moreover, populists often champion democratic leadership and governance but they later become the very representations of the problems they had proposed to have solution for fixing in long-term political campaign strategies.
In some Asian countries, populism evolved and spread within and through religious institutions; particularly Islam. Hadiz, (2018), credits the populism phenomenon within Islam in Indonesia for the observable contextual modifications towards championing disdain for leftist challenges to private property and capital accumulation aside from assurances of political liberalism which supports secularity in national state governance.
According to Wood, Daley & Chivers, (2018), populism in Australia is more than jsut economics. These researchers acknowledged that populism in both Asia and Australia seem to take varied turns with Australia striving to slow down or eradicate the phenomenon while most Asian countries have embraced the phenomenon as the new approach to countering neoliberal politics and failed democratic governance structures and approaches. This comprehensive literature review therefore has created the critical understanding of the phenomenon of populism, its evolution and existence in Asian countries like Taiwan, Philippines and India as well as Australia. This understanding will help shade more light into how this phenomenon relates with public perception and trust in public institutions and political systems within the selected countries.
Chapter 3: MethodologyThis study adopted random sampling technique for quantitative data acquisition. The quantitative study sampling was adopted in selecting citizens for the questionnaire interviews. The quantitative research methodology was appropriate for the study because it allows the researcher to gather large amounts of information in a short span of time and at a significantly lower cost (Andrade & Andersen, 2020). Additionally, the quantitative study was used as an appropriate method for identifying the numerical outputs that could answer the identified research questions and meeting the set study objectives.
3.1. Research DesignThis study adopted a cross-sectional research design where data and information was collected at one point in time to assess the current state of issues being investigated as they are. A quantitative research method was used to gather primary data, while review of secondary documents was also employed in undertaking this research to gather secondary information. The primary data gathering was through structured questionnaires, which were administered to selected and recruited participants. Secondary data gathering involved extensive research and analysis of existing literature and other materials related to the study topic and problem statement. Also, The data collected through the questionnaires was triangulated through integrated analysis approach to ensure optimum validity of the findings presented.
3.1.1. Rational for Cross-sectional Study DesignThe study opted for cross sectional study design creates an opportunity to observe and measure the outcome in the study participants at the same time without changing or altering their exposure status of the study participants. According to Setia, (2016), because cross-sectional study participants are just selected based on the inclusion and exclusion criteria of the study, the study design allows for the study to be accomplished relatively faster and is inexpensive compared to other study designs like cohort and random controlled trials.
3.2. Research Hypotheses
This study hypothesizes that the level of public trust and perception about a country’s social, economic and political systems significantly determines the existence and success of populist politics.
3.3. Setting/Sample & Population
The study population included general citizens sampled from across Australia and identified Asian Countries including Taiwan, Philippines and India. The population included:
General men and women aged 18-65 years
Mixed groups of male and female youths who are aged 18-35 years in College and universities
Politicians and political science experts
3.4. Data Collection Methods and Tools
This study employed specific tools and processes in gathering rich and high quality primary data and information. The questionnaire was structured to gather all the core information relating to the set study objectives. The primary data collection process included a quantitative method using participatory approach where study participants interacted with structured questionnaires in which they answered questions. The researcher ensures that the data collection tool was well designed to capture the public perception about the respective country’s political situation and current affairs.
3.4. Secondary data ReviewSecondary data review process involved extensive cross analysis of relevant secondary literature materials. These documents gave an insight into understanding the populism phenomenon in Australia and he selected Asian countries. Additionally, cross analysis of existing literature helped understand the political systems of the selected countries
The primary data collection process was done through questionnaire administration both online and via face-to-face field visits. The researcher endeavored to collect quality information by having the data collection teams going out to meet with the respective respondents. The online Questionnaire administration was used as an alternative for collecting information in circumstances where physical interviews were not possible. Data was thus collected from Australia, Taiwan, Philippines and India with each region being equally represented.
3.4. Sampling Method3.4.1. Sample size DeterminationAcross all the 4 countries, a population estimate of above 100,000 was employed considering that this is an infinite population. The study was conducted at a confidence level of 95% with a representative total sample size of 422 targeted in each country (inclusive of 10% for non response rate). The 4 countries Australia, Taiwan, Philippines, and India were sampled and the respondents interviewed in equal proportions.
3.4.2. Sampling Procedure
Due to the characteristics of the study population and the geographic location, a multi-stage cluster-sampling frame was adopted bsed on guidelines by Sedgwick, (2015). This multi-stage cluster sampling method was the most appropriate technique for the study of this nature. The participants randomly sampled and all the participants had an equal chance of getting selected. About 4220 respondents within the selected study Countries were sampled using the sampling methods described above. A questionnaire was administered for participants randomly selected.
3.5. Data Quality Management ControlsThe data quality management process included all control measures put in place and strictly followed to ensure that the collected data is valid and reliable. The researcher in collaboration with the data collection teams committed to ensuring that the entire process was managed to meet the requisite standards of conducting social research studies of this nature. Some of the stringent data quality checks employed included: Comprehensive review of the study tools, , training the data collection teams , pre-testing , daily process monitoring and cross checking completed questionnaires for accuracy, correctness, consistency and completeness. These procedures were taken at various designated levels of critical data control points.
3.5.1 Quantitative Data Management ProcessThe data collected was downloaded from Kobo Toolbox cloud server in Excel format, and then exported to SPSS spreadsheets for thorough cleaning and sorting. The final data was analysed using SPSS version 25.0. The data cleaning was performed to flag off inaccurate data and outliers. The data analysis process was performed on descriptive and inferential statistical analysis techniques. Descriptive statistical approaches included the determination of proportions, percentages and means. Tests for proportional differences between the different study locations for some identified indicators were done using z-tests to study change. The study findings have been presented using tables, charts and graphs to clearly visualize the results as per the study objective.
3.6. Ethical ConsiderationsThe researcher and the entire research process were conducted with adherence to a number of ethical principles applied in research of this nature. The entire research data collection assistants went through a comprehensive training on ethical issues in research. The training exposed the research team to the importance of understanding issues of privacy and confidentiality, informed consent, anonymity, individual or group harm, ethical issues related to children and elderly persons (Glattke, 2007). All the study participants were assured of confidentiality of the information collected from them and using and assigning every participant a unique study Identification code to protect the respondents also assured anonymity. Accurate data entry, cleaning and analysis was done without any form of manipulation as a data integrity assurance protocol.
3.7. Data Analysis
The data was analyzed using the IBM SPSS V.25.0 Statistical analysis software. The gathered data was analyzed using descriptive analysis methodology to determine measures such as frequency, mean, median and percentiles. Inferential statistical analysis techniques including correlation and analysis of variance was used to establish the relationships between the variables and test the extent to which the groups differ.
Chapter 4: Findings4.0. Findings
4.1. Findings Summary
4.1.1. Representation of the Study Participants by Country
To undertake an in-depth analysis of the citizen perception and attitude towards public institutions in respective regions, the study sampled and targeted 4220 respondents. However, 5210 respondents were reached and interviewed from the 4 countries, this translates to an overall response rate of 123.5%. Out of these 5210, 3850 respondents were drawn from general men and women aged 18-65 years and mixed groups of male and female youths who are aged 18-35 years in colleges and universities,. The other 1360 were government representatives and Politicians and political science experts. The sample size was determined based on the estimated study population regions.
Table 1: Representation of the Study Participants by Country
Indicator Frequency Percent
Study Region (n= 5210) Taiwan 630 12.1
India 2210 42.4
Philippines 610 11.7
Australia 1760 33.8
4.1.2. Household Socio-demographics
The study results show that majority of the respondents from Asian Countries and Australia were maried at 73.9% and 61.7% respectively. The rest were single (17.7%), Widowed (8.3%), Separated (2.9%), and divorced (2.1%). In overall, the proportion of married respondents from Asian Countries was significantly higher than those from Australia. Conversely, within Australia, there were more single individuals that those reported from the Asian countries.
Table 2: Distribution of Respondents by Marital Status
Marital Status Single 13.8a 22.8b 17.7
73.9a 61.7b 68.6
Separated 2.3a 3.6a 2.9
Divorced 0.5a 4.2b 2.1
Widowed 8.7a 7.8a 8.3
Others 0.9a 0.0a 0.5
4.1.3. Distribution of respondents by highest level of Education Completed
Education is not only a key determinate of the lifestyle and status that an individual enjoys in a community but also how well they understand, reason, relate and associate with issues to do with governance and civic participation. Most of the respondents from across the two regions have completed tertiary education at 46.85 and slightly more than a quarter has completed Secondary school (34.8%). The rest had attained either informal education (2.9%), Pre-school (0.3%), lower level education (10.9%), and no informal education (3.4%)
4.1.4. Distribution of Respondents By Main Occupation of The Household Head
Occupation refers to the job or the kind of work performed during the reference period. The respondents were asked to state their current occupation. Findings show that Formal; employment was the main occupation of the household heads across the two study regions at 34.3%. Others were self employed (21.4%), Casual labour (17.0%), students (15.2%) and Unemployed at 12.0%, other forms of occupation reported were insignificant. It is imperative to note that generally the number of respondents in employment reported were significantly higher in Australia compared to the Asian Countries. The highest unemployment cases reported were from Philippines and Taiwan respectively.
Figure 1: Distribution of Respondents by Main Occupation
4.1.5. Distribution the Respondents by Household Monthly income
The study further assessed the respondent’s household monthly income and the findings revealed that most respondents from both countries earned a monthly income above 10,000 US dollars. It is imperative to point out that cross analysis of the income distribution among the respondents from Asian countries revealed no significant difference in the proportions reported on household monthly income.
4.1.6. Economic Evaluations
The study assessed the participants’ perception of their family’s and respective country’s economic conditions and future predictions. Majority reported that the overall economic condition of the country at the time was very bad at the time (Asian countries56.4%, Australia 52.8%;). Out of these numbers, 60% of respondents from Asian countries reported that their families’ economic situation is way worse than it was few years ago. 51.9% of respondents from Australia anticipate that the situation is likely to get way worse. Additionally, there was no significant difference in the expectations of respondents from the two regions about their respective country’s economic condition a few years from the time the study was conducted.
4.1.7. Trust in Institutions
An evaluation to establish the level of trust in Selected public institutions gave contrasting findings across the regions sampled. In Australia for example, majority of the respondents (75%) had a great deal of trust in the local government compared to the national government (21.6%). The political parties, the presidential system, the courts and parliament cored the lowest in terms of public trust with majority of respondents reporting having not very much trust in these institutions (Political parties, 45%, The president and the presidential system 42.1%, the courts 65%, parliament 32.1%).
General study findings from the respondents from Asian Countries on the other hand revealed that Philippines was leading in terms of level of lack of trust in the public institutions (53%), followed by Taiwan (36.9%) and then India (21.8%). Majority of respondents from Asian Countries reported significantly higher levels of trust in the non-governmental institutions compared to both local and national government. The respondents had equally low levels of trust in the electoral system and the electoral commission across the three sampled regions.
Figure 2: Comparative Bar graph showing level of Trust in selected Public institutions
-571500822960Level of public trust
00Level of public trust
4.1.8. Participation in elections
Participation in elections is a strong indicator of the level of trust and civic engagement by citizens of a country. To an extent, the degree of participation is also a direct indicator in the level of trust and contentment with the existing political structures and those in power. In terms of participation in elections, Philippines ranked the highest in terms of civic involvement in the past presidential election followed by Taiwan, Australia and India; at 65%, 43.4%, 35.7% and 32.7%) respectively. A cross analysis of the proportions of respondents who reported having participated in the past election in terms of Age, majority are 3