How long ago it now seems that the big political worry was apathy. Today, wherever you look — Brexit negotiations, US politics, the latest news from Europe — the talk is only of polarisation, division and a coarsening of political behaviour and language. According to a Ipsos MORI survey, most Europeans believe their countries are more polarised than ten years ago.
But are we really as divided as the new consensus presumes? What if recent political trends represent instead a long overdue rebalancing of interests after nearly 30 years of liberal domination — both economic and social — favouring the affluent and educated, and so a case of democracy not failing but working (albeit not to the taste of most of the political class)?
Despite the success of populist parties across Europe, many of them participating in governments — in Rome, Vienna and elsewhere — there has been no obvious threat to democracy, minority rights or the rule of law (with the arguable exception of a divided Poland and a majoritarian Hungary).