Influential business leaders and lawmakers once again descend on the Swiss Alpine resort of Davos next week against a backdrop of rising populism, and early indications suggest they will at least acknowledge the dramatic political shifts of the last twelve months.
Election wins for Donald Trump and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, as well as the U.K.’s vote to leave the EU, were widely seen as a rejection of current socio-economic models. Populism became a key story of 2016 and will be front and center in Davos ahead of elections this year in France, Germany, the Netherlands and most likely Italy.
In a nod to this current mood, this year’s World Economic Forum (WEF) is titled “Responsive and Responsible Leadership” and its official agenda describes a “weakening of multiple systems” that has eroded confidence and speaks of a possible “downward spiral” fuelled by protectionism, populism and nativism.
Donald Trump’s inauguration as U.S. president on January 20 will overshadow the event but it’s hard to see how every conference, bilateral meeting or roundtable in Davos won’t include some reference to this political upheaval, which the conservative news aggregation site The Drudge Report calls the “new, new world order”.