Europe News

Is Public Opinion Turning Against Elite Over Globalization?

As leaders on both sides of the Atlantic wrestle with the problems posed by the financial crisis, populations in advanced economies are increasingly restive.

Greek riot police officers stand guard in front of the Greek parliament next to a banner reading ' Poverty is the biggest brutality ' during a general strike against government austerity plans, in Athens.
Louisa Gouliamaki | AFP | Getty Images

Protests in Greece, the threat of a new wave of strikes in the UK, and vocal opposition to the US administration's attempts to solve the financial crisis have helped add to the feeling that all of the people are not happy any of the time.

"The feeling is that internationalism has really arrived at a price that's too high," Lord Malloch-Brown, former UN Deputy Secretary-General and author of The Unfinished Global Revolution, told CNBC at the "summer Davos" Dalian World Economic Forum conference Thursday.

"While elites struggle weakly to find a solution, public opinion is stridently going off in the opposite direction."

Globalization, a term which has been bandied about in the past two decades to describe the increasing connectivity of the world, means that even the rapidly growing economies such as China could be dragged into the Western world's economic problems, according to Malloch-Brown, who is also Chairman of Global Affairs at FTI Consulting.

"'Can the emerging economies detach themselves?' is the question, and I think the answer is no," he added.

This week, the prospect that some of the emerging economies may help bail out the more advanced seemed closer as it emerged that representatives of the BRICS countries are due to meet ahead of the main September IMF meeting to discuss what assistance they can give to the euro zone.

The focus has moved to the leadership of Europe this week, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy issuing a strongly-worded statement Wednesday urging Greece to implement austerity plans and stating that they were determined to keep the struggling Mediterranean state in the euro zone.

"Perhaps this means that leadership is around the corner," Malloch-Brown said.

There have been plenty of complaints from business leaders about a perceived lack of leadership on both sides of the Atlantic as the crisis unfolded.