Former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warns of the rise of populist figures across the world, asserting that their failure in elections does not necessarily mean they have had no effect.
The first female African American secretary of state made the comments as French right-wing candidate Marine Le Pen was projected to lose the presidential election, unlike the populist trend in the UK and the US, which led to Brexit and Donald Trump’s presidency respectively.
Rice (pictured below) noted that the election, in which pro-EU centrist Emmanuel Macron was appearing victor, is “very significant.”
“It comes in a wave of elections in which we’re seeing populists have a great deal of power,” she said on Sunday. “But I think we’d make a mistake if we see populist candidates who don’t win and then we think it’s had no effect.”
Just being presented at this level and necessitating a response to their populist issues means populists are gaining more power, she suggested.
“I really do believe that these populists are changing the character of the politics just by being there, so even mainstream candidates are having to respond to their agenda,” said Rice.
The 62-year-old further suggested that the populists’ rise averts attention from real issues facing societies and the world.
“You see fewer people talking about free trade. You see countries talking about industrial policy and protectionism. It’s hard to defend immigrants almost any place in the world today. … The rise of nativism is having an impact on the politics, even if the candidates aren’t winning.”
According to the latest projections, Macron has 65.5 percent of the vote way ahead of Le Pen with 34.5 percent.
Meanwhile, US President Trump congratulated the candidate for the En Marche ! movement in a tweet.
“Congratulations to Emmanuel Macron on his big win today as the next President of France,” he said. “I look very much forward to working with him!”