Saturday, 16 February 2019

Education and Culture Are Barriers against Populism and Radicalism

ZAGREB, February 16, 2019 - Croatia definitely stands a chance of defending itself from radicalism and populism and the main instrument for that is exerting influence on political parties and structures, researcher Boris Jokić said at the forum "Liberalism and culture as a barrier to populism and radicalism", held in Zagreb on Saturday.

The forum was organised in cooperation with the opposition Civic Liberal Alliance (GLAS) party and with the support of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE).

A researcher at the Zagreb Institute for Social Research, Jokić said that education and culture were important social sectors and that populist trends in them could have a bad ending.

It is possible to build a tolerant society that is not based on populism, he said, adding that the main mechanism for that was communication and cooperation among different people, with less talking and more listening.

Populism and radicalism are a European and global phenomenon and their main cause are politicians who lack integrity and do not assume responsibility for what they do, who lie and go back on their promises, he warned. Nonetheless, in the Croatian society there is room for decisions based on reason and for policy-making based on science and facts, he added. "I strongly believe that the avalanche of populism has not affected Croatia strongly and that there is room to fix things," he said.

Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Jozo Radoš of the GLAS party, which is a member of ALDE, said he believed that radicalism and populism had already grown dangerous. "I think that standard, traditional political forces, which have not given answers to some issues - which is the reason why populism has emerged - should focus, start working better and give citizens what they expect policy-makers to do," he said.

He noted that education was a sore spot in Croatia and that over the past 15 years that sector had constantly been in a process of reform with no real changes or progress.

GLAS MP Vesna Pusić said that research done by the Institute for Social Sciences and the Faculty of Theology showed that the most authoritarian and conservative social group were people aged 18-30, "which is reason enough for concern" and reflected the quality of education.

Croatia, the region and the European Union are declining in terms of the quality of education, Pusić said, noting that Croatia was not among the first ten countries in EU rankings in terms of education.

"The young people in question are the leaders and voters of tomorrow, some of them are that already. Those people are the ones that will take over the leadership of their country and they are evidently, more than other age groups, prone to support authoritarian leaders and models that curtail democracy and participation, and that has its root. It is our duty to discuss these topics," Pusić said, adding that changes in the education system required time, sometimes a decade.

"That is a lot of time, the situation is not that bad, but we should start doing something about it already now."

More news on the GLAS party can be found in the Politics section.

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