Populist uprisings often call for the renationalization or buying back of public goods that were originally privatized as a result of austerity measures established and disseminated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. These movements occur either as a backlash to IMF/World Bank austerity measures, failure of privatization, an economic crisis, or as a reaction to neo-liberalist approaches that lead states to diverge from strong interventionist policies directed at the provision of essential services to the public.

Renationalizations are indicative of populist movements that mobilize around the sectors of natural resources and provision of services, such as water and energy; we can expect similar pressure in the sectors and economies on all continents under neo-liberal austerity measures. This brief recommends that governments make an effort to build strong social safety nets, develop means of communication with the discontented public and, where possible, consider renationalizing basic public good sectors.

The CIGI Graduate Fellows program at the Balsillie School of International Affairs provides students with mentorship opportunities from senior scholars and policy makers. The program consists of research assistantships, policy brief writing workshops, interactive learning sessions with senior experts from CIGI and publication opportunities. Working under the direction of a project leader, graduate fellows conduct research in one of CIGI’s program areas. This series presents those policy briefs that have met CIGI’s publications standards.