The term “Brexit” refers to the decision made by the United Kingdom to leave the European Union. This decision was made in June of 2016. The European Union is a group of 28 European Countries that have become a powerhouse when it comes to global politics. This decision made by the United Kingdom has been a controversial one and could be a sign of democratic erosion, which is the slow degradation of democratic institutions.
The 2016 Brexit vote resulted in 51.9% voting to leave the European Union and 48.1% voting to stay. The United Kingdom was scheduled to depart from the EU on March 29, 2019, but the leaders of the European Union have now given them a 6-month extension. They have until October 31, 2019 to officially depart from the EU. Since the decision was made, studies show that support for the separation has fell and many regret voting in favor of leaving.
There are many reasons that led to the United Kingdom’s vote to leave. Even though being a part of the EU means access to many benefits, like access to a large single market where the countries trade freely with one another, the European parliament enforces many rules and standards that each country must follow in order to participate. Many people in the UK felt as though they were losing control over their own affairs. They were also concerned about the free movement rule within the EU because people were moving to richer countries within the EU without special permission to do so.
Populism in gaining ground around the world. According to “How Democracies Fall Apart” by Andrea Kendall-Taylor, populist parties in Europe dominate parliaments in Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, and Switzerland, and is present in other European countries. Populism usually leads to a radical leader that reduces the freedoms of the people. The UKIP is a politically right-wing group that largely supported the decision to leave the EU and have played a part in the populist movement in the United Kingdom. This movement caused the people to doubt the democratic institutions and ultimately want to leave. Populism is an indicator of democratic erosion. This distrust of democratic institutions will lead to further degradation of democracy in Europe if the EU does not use this situation to show the other European countries the dangers of populism and its effects on the United Kingdom.
If we are to ever achieve the goal of a predominantly democratic world, we must address situations such as Brexit that are examples of the degradation of democratic institutions. We must not allow populist leaders to cause countries such as the United Kingdom to backslide further and further from democracy.