The Republic’s representative in the Azores calls for the fight against populism

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The Republic’s representative for the Azores, Pedro Catarino, today warned of the rise of populism in various parts of the world, calling for a reform of democratic institutions and the training of young people to combat it.

“It is an illusion to think that the problem of populism will disappear on its own or that it can be solved by sanitary sieges. It is also necessary to define a safe path for the reform and modernization of democratic institutions, recognizing the mistakes of the past and avoiding their repetition in the future, and to prepare young people with a solid education,” said Pedro Catarino, in Angra do Heroísmo, on the island of Terceira, during Portugal Day commemorations.

The “clear democratic regression”, caused by “the emergence of populist leaders and movements throughout the world”, is one of the five challenges identified by the Republic’s representative for the Autonomous Region of the Azores, in his June 10 speech.

Collective security, the climate emergency, the digital transition and social inequality were also warned about by Pedro Catarino, who nonetheless highlighted the “significant progress” made by Portugal and the European Union in tackling these challenges.

Stressing that populism is a strategy for winning power, “used on the right as well as the left”, through the mobilization of the “excluded” and the “indignant”, the representative of the Republic drew attention to the use of social networks for direct contact with voters.

“Populists divide society in dichotomous terms – nationals and immigrants, the pure and the corrupt, workers and politicians – promise easy solutions to complex problems and aspire to a return to a past of glory and prosperity,” he stressed.

On the other hand, Pedro Catarino defended the need to combat social inequalities, in particular “income inequality”, which makes access to education, health and quality housing difficult for those who “are unemployed or who, even if they have a job, have a monthly income that puts them below the poverty line”.

With regard to the digital transition, he said that opportunities should be distributed “fairly among all citizens”.

“We must offer citizens new fundamental rights that enable them to freely access the digital universe, to navigate it safely, to guarantee their privacy, to protect their dignity against malicious applications of artificial intelligence, and to guarantee freedom of expression on the new digital platforms, particularly on social networks”, he said, hailing the example of Portugal, which recently approved the Charter of Rights for the Digital Age.

The “clear signs” of climate urgency, such as “the increase in the Earth’s temperature and rising sea levels”, also prompted a warning from Pedro Catarino, who nevertheless stressed that the Azores “have been and can still be an example of good practice in preserving the environment” and that Portugal and the European Union have made a great effort to “achieve carbon neutrality within a reasonable timeframe”.

He declared that “the asymmetries between North and South and between the different economic blocs are striking. The institutions of the international community must maintain strong diplomatic pressure on the main polluters, but they must also help the poorest countries to promote their economic development in a more sustainable way”, he stressed.

As he had already done in 2022, the Republic’s representative for the Azores also left a word on the war in Ukraine, reinforcing the need to “preserve peace and collective security”.

“Portugal, together with its NATO partners and the other member states of the European Union, must show firmness and solidarity in defense of Ukraine and its long-suffering people. We must not forget that failure to support Ukraine will have irreversible consequences in the new world geopolitical order.

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