Shortly before taking off to Japan for the G20 summit in late June, Russian President Vladimir Putin took the time for an extensive interview with the Financial Times. He was asked about current international hot topics such as the Middle East, North Korea, trade relations, and Venezuela as well as Russian domestic challenges. Putin seized the opportunity to comment on the state of Western democracies and proclaimed the end of the liberal idea. While music to the ears of European populists, his words resonate as cynicism, maybe even a threat, with those who believe in freedom and democracy.
The point of this paper is not to determine if the critics toward neo-liberal theories are justified or to measure the optimum degree of protectionism needed in an economy. However, using the example of Matteo Salvini’s discourses toward food safety in Europe, we will demonstrate how national-populism uses protectionism arguments, despite its political action not going in that direction.