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Western countries in institutional crisis: Nils Andersson

(People's Daily Online)    11:00, January 15, 2020

Western countries are experiencing a profound institutional crisis, according to Nils Andersson, an intellectual in France, who maintains a clear perception of how Western democracies work.

Nils Andersson (photo courtesy of the interviewee)

His predictions of the future development of the West are based on statistics of important indicators, including population and economy, which impact the global landscape.

Data cited from Gapminder Foundation, an independent Swedish foundation, shows that the population in Europe will drop by 27 million from 2018 to 2050, while the Asian and African populations will increase by 700 million and 1.2 billion, respectively. By 2050, 80 percent of the global population will live in Asia and Africa, while those in Europe will unquestionably decline, Andersson emphasized.

Citing PwC France's predictions of the world's top 20 economies, Andersson pointed out that things will not look good in most developed Western countries from the perspective of economic development.

Forecasts show that from 2016 to 2050, if measured by GDP in terms of purchasing power parity, the US will be down to third place from 2016 to 2050, Germany down to ninth place, the UK will be down to 10th place and France out of the top 10. Meanwhile, emerging markets are projected to grow in 2050 led by China (1st) and India (2nd).

The trend indicates that the focus of the world will shift from Europe and the Atlantic region to Asia and the Pacific region, Andersson said, adding that the US will remain a superpower although the strength of Europe and Western countries will fall.

He also pointed out that the imbalance between wealth and social systems has deepened the political and social crisis in Western democracies.

The development of neoliberalism in the 1980s resulted in a substantial rise in private wealth that was much faster than that of public wealth in Western countries, undermining the governments' role and authority as decision-makers, Andersson said, adding that it was an important reason for the fall of the West.

He stressed that privatization of national income in Western countries including Germany, the UK, France, Japan and the US led to a plunge in public capital and rise in national debts, often resulting in an impasse in social governance.

Growth in private wealth, especially the emergence of transnational enterprises in the 1950s, has greatly upset the balance between wealth and social systems in the West, Andersson noted.

Today, about 1,000 Western multinational corporations control 80 percent of global industrial production, he pointed out. Due to the high concentration of capital, fierce competition between multinational corporations, the complex capital relationships behind them, as well as close ties between them and political parties and media, these multinational corporations and capital owners have become a new force in state power, seriously affecting approval of public policies. As a result, citizens’ participation in political affairs has been gradually reduced.

As for the "yellow vest" movement against social inequality in France, Andersson said it's a result of institutional, social and cultural crises in the country. Such an institutional crisis in Western democracies is also seen in the crisis of the democratic representation system and Western political party system, he added.

On the contrary, China's development and rise in the past 40 years is a fact that the West did not expect, Andersson said, adding that it reflects the country's advantages as it can compare the history of Western countries with its own development, focus on the interests and well-being of the people, and make plans for future long-term development.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Liang Jun)

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