Anger has become an increasingly prominent feature of political life across the world. Images of irate crowds, prime ministers and presidents are ubiquitous. In democracies, populists have come to power precisely because they capitalized on a prevailing societal disquiet.
This anger is a consequence of people’s hopes having not been met. When the Cold War ended, the future suddenly became very bright; there would be no more wars, democracy would spread, and globalization would ensure prosperity for all.
But as these promises failed to materialize, and as the gap between expectations and reality has grown, nationalism, revisionism and xenophobia have rushed into the void left by unfulfilled hopes. Our current predicament should serve as a lesson that hope is not an emotion to be treated lightly.
The impact of hope in the Western Balkans is a telling illustration.
Since the turn of the millennium, the people of the Balkans have been promised a glorious future inside the EU; foreign leaders have repeatedly offered visions of peace, prosperity and progress, raising hopes across the region.
But these hopes have too often been dashed, and there is a price to pay.
Feature image: Atdhe Mulla / K2.0.