If the British Conservative party is feeling stunned, having calamitously misread the public mood in a general election, then it is in good company. Across Europe, right-wing parties are struggling to find messages that resonate. It’s not that voters have turned away from conservative ideas: polls show a huge number interested in individual liberty, lower taxes and the nation state. The problem is that conservative parties have given up on those ideas — and, as a result, voters are giving up on them.
Take Fredrik Reinfeldt, prime minister of my native Sweden between 2006 and 2014. He started off well, reforming welfare and cutting taxes. But then it all went downhill. He lost his taste for economic freedom and, with it, his edge.