Political opportunists are increasingly winning elections in democratically governed countries using tactics of fearmongering at the expense of minorities.

Historically, the Nazis gained popularity amongst German masses by demonising Jews earlier last century with Hitler coming to power resulting in World War II and the Holocaust.

In contemporary times, more and more politicians are using divisive politics to gain votes by demonising minority groups in the society.

John Howard, a recycled Liberal Party leader got lucky and won the federal election in 1996, not on his own merits but as a result of overconfidence and arrogance of Paul Keating.

In 1998, with all polls indicating a sure win by the Labor Party led by Kim Beazly, John Howard employed the divisive political tactics and using his “children overboard” slogan demonised the refugees, thereby creating fear in the electorate and not only won the election that year but also the subsequent elections in 2001 and 2004, thanks to the events of 9/11 and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

One Nation Party led by Pauline Hanson gained political significance during the 90s claiming that Australia was being swamped by Asians. In the last federal election, this year, One Nation won several senate seats recycling itself for saving Australia from a takeover by Muslims.

Several politicians in the Federal Liberal Party keep on exploiting Islamophobia and vilify Islam and demonise Muslims from time to time taking their cues from conflicts in the Middle East, issue of foreign fighters or few random acts of so called terrorism in Australia.

In the largest democracy, India, Narendra Modi came to power and remains in power by exploiting the religious prejudices of the Hindu majority by demonising Indian Muslims and projecting Pakistan as an arch enemy.

With the backdrop of terrorism and war on terror in the Middle East and now the constant waves of refugees from war-torn countries seeking safe havens in Europe, the far right parties in UK and Europe are playing on the fear of the electorate and gaining increasing number of votes during elections.

Brexit or withdrawal of UK from the European Union spearheaded by right wing populism is yet another example of this fearmongering. The latest example from Europe of the success of far-right parties is the emergence of Francois Fillon who won the nomination for the Republican’s presidential runoff held on 27 November 2016.

George W Bush who won the Presidency of US in January 2001 in a close and controversial election against Al Gore was re-elected again in  2004 against John Kerry, thanks to the climate of fear due to war on terror.

The most significant result of divisive politics has been the surprise election of Donald Trump as President of the United States of America this year.

Trump has been very open in his views as a racist, Islamophobic, anti-Hispanic, anti-women and anti-minorities, but he very successfully created fear in the electorate in middle America in order to just get enough votes to become the President of the most powerful and wealthy nation on earth.

It seems that Canada has been the only country that has resisted the fearmongering by opportunistic politicians where the electorate has shown great intelligence and maturity and elected Justin Trudeau as the Prime Minister who together with his Liberal Party successfully contested the elections on inclusive politics, multiculturalism and a united, peaceful and compassionate world.

ZI Ahmad