EFN 2012 Statement on Liberal Views on Populism

EFN Asia conference 2012 was recently held in Hong Kong in which Pakistani delegation comprised Olaf Kellerhoff, Mr. Zubair Malik, Dr. Ayub Mehar and Ali Salman, who attended the conference with the support of Friedrich Naumann Foundation. The delegates issued following statement with consensus.
We the liberals believe that populism is the promise of state-mandated, unsustainable benefits to the broader population without consideration of the long-term costs and benefits. It relies on highly emotive statements. In fact, populism is counterproductive to general well-being and progress, as illustrated by the economic decline of the many countries that have pursued populist agendas.

We are concerned that governments in Asia are turning away from the policies which have been demonstrated to promote prosperity in many parts of the world.

We are confident that people will reject populist policies once they understand the true costs associated with them.

Those costs include an increasing dependency on the state, weakening the rule of law, property rights and individual freedom. Populism also reduces the ability of individuals and local communities to make their own decisions, and undermines the competitiveness of businesses.

Recent moves in Asia to subsidise food and fuel, and to transfer cash are all examples of populist policies that have done more harm than good.

We are confident that if Asia commits itself to liberal values such as property rights and the rule of law, the region will prosper.

We commit to:

  • Provide alternative liberal solutions to the real problems that give rise to populism, and educate about the benefits of liberal policies, using positive language and examples.


  • Provide public support to politicians, political parties, business groups and other stakeholders that support liberal solutions.


  • Expose the high costs in terms of money and disastrous end results of such policies


  • Educate politicians and students


  • Engage with the media to educate the public more widely


  • Engage and create strategic alliances with civil society


  • Meet on a regular basis to strengthen our network.

About Ali Salman

Ali Salman is a founding member of Economic Freedom Network Pakistan. He works as a principal consultant at Development Pool, a socio-economic consultancy firm based out of Islamabad. He can be contacted at ali.salman@developmentpool.org.
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