Ten Problems for Politics in the 2020s

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Literature Review: Politics Problems for the 2020s

Globalization has fundamentally changed the conditions under which nation state democracies function. If the institutional mechanisms and actions of the relevant political actors do not process these challenges adaptively, a crisis of legitimacy may result [1]. This crisis of legitimacy, in turn, provides the arguments for populists and autocrats to challenge democratic rule in general. Second, it may well be that globalization hides different developmental trajectories in different countries and regions.

In the United States, the policymaking process remains captured both by special interests and the country’s professional policy corps (what Trump calls the “deep state” but is actually a “deep bureaucracy”) [2]. In Europe, individual countries continue to experience a surge by populists at the national level, but their disruption has been limited by the supranational architecture of the European Union, a durable set of rule-making institutions staffed by the most technocratic personnel on that side of the Atlantic.

Whilst populism seems to appear out of the democratic blue, it has surfaced repeatedly in Western systems since the late 18th century. And while some anti-system movements used populist methods to topple democracies in Germany or Italy, most populist waves did not seek, or succeed, in changing a political system. Instead, the vast majority of waves in the 19th and 20th century in the United States and Europe dissipated once their concerns were addressed through economic and political reforms [3].

After the collapse of the bipolar system of relations in the early 1990s, views have become quite widespread recently that the world order is in crisis and critically unstable, and that the efficiency of international institutions is declining and losing public trust. While the Middle East concept within West Asia North Africa region is struggling with the challenges of postmodern relativism and some of its elements are waning, the pre-modern concept of the Islamic world, on the contrary, is regaining relevancy [4].

There has been a global shift of focus to Asia in terms of economic growth and this has driven growing success in the economic field regionally. Asia’s engagement with international organizations, and to some extent the politics of regional organizations, reflects the dynamics of the transitional international order, and in particular the ‘rise’ of non-Western countries [5]. This has resulted in Asia pushing back against ‘Western- led’ institutions/norms, and creating alternative multilateral arrangements, and it has generated contestation around the norms of international society and control of the international agenda.

Starting from such general references, this booklet identifies ten relevant areas from very recent contributions put forward at academic level in the form journal articles, conference proceedings and students theses. Ten freely accessible internet references have been selected for each area and direct links are provided at the end of each chapter for own consultation. Our selected references do not intend to mirror ranking indexes nor establish novel classifications. On the contrary, they are meant to represent peer-reviewed, diverse and scientifically-sound case studies for vertical dissemination aimed at non-specialist readers. They will also be able to scoop even more references through the bibliography that is reported at the end of each selected reference.

Without further ado, these are the “Ten Problems for Politics in the 2020s” that we are going to introduce in this booklet:

  1. liberalism, 
  2. democracy,
  3. authoritarianism,
  4. mondialism,
  5. populism,
  6. immigration,
  7. diversity,
  8. international relations,
  9. instability,
  10. peace.

Each problem has its own dedicated chapter made of an introductory section, a short presentation of the ten selected references and a conclusions section.

The final chapter of this booklet will report the conclusions from each chapter again in order to provide a complete executive summary.


[1] D. Fuchs et al., “Globalization, Populism and Legitimacy in Contemporary Democracy”, 2019, in: U. van Beek (ed.), Democracy under Threat, Challenges to Democracy in the 21st Century, , online at

[2] I. Bremmer et al., “Top Risks 2020”, 2020, Eurasia Group, online at 

[3] F. Gaub et al., “Global Trends to 2030: Challenges and Choices for Europe”, 2019, European Union Institute for Security Studies, online at 

[4] V.A. Kuznetsov, “Western Asia and North Africa in the Neo-Modernity Context”, 2019, Russia in Global Affairs 17:1 2019, DOI: 10.31278/1810-6374-2019-17-1-124-146 , online at 

[5] R. Hartley et al., “Global and Regional Organisations”, 2019, in: The SAGE Handbook of Asian Foreign Policy , 2019, online at 

“Ten Problems for Politics in the 2020s” booklet for Amazon Kindle, 2020; click on the cover to go to the dedicated Amazon listing page

By TenProblems

Literature Reviews for Inquisitive Minds