Saturday, July 4, 2020

Pinkerton: India Elections Show Conservative Nationalism on the March Worldwide

Here’s a mournful May 20 headline from Bloomberg Opinion: “The right-wing populist playbook keeps winning.” What’s the secret of this “right-wing populist playbook”? It’s actually not much of a secret: getting more votes.

As I have recently noted, that same right-wing playbook was used in Australia, where the conservative-nationalist coalition just won re-election. And what exactly did the Aussie conservative nationalists do? They attacked their opponents for being liberal globalists, which, of course, they were. See? Politics isn’t so hard. If the majority is conservative and nationalist, the thing to do is invoke that majority, stay true to it, campaign on it—and then you’ll win.

Now this simple-enough playbook has just been played in India, too, where on May 23, the conservative nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Narendra Modi, won re-election. The Washington Postheadline tells the tale: “India’s Modi wins resounding election victory with potent appeal to nationalism.” [emphasis added]

Modi’s BJP won an estimated 304 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha, or parliament; that’s the biggest victory for an Indian politician in half a century. And to put the results another way, we can note that the second-place party won a mere 51 seats.

On the night of his victory, always sticking to nationalist themes, Modi said, “If someone has won today, it’s the country.”

Of course, others had their preferred spin. Speaking, as always, for liberal globalism, Bloomberg chastised, “Heavy-handed appeals to nationalism that rally the masses to his side.” And the like-mindedly liberal BBC explained, “The vote had been widely viewed as a referendum on the prime minister’s Hindu nationalist politics.” Needless to say, since Modi won, the Beeb isn’t happy; the same article continued, “A strident—and at times violent—Hindu nationalism has become mainstream in the past five years.” The article made no mention, of course, about terrorism in India, such as the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai that left 164 dead, or the 2019 suicide bombing that killed 40 Indian soldiers.

James P. Pinkerton

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