Nearly everywhere you look, parties of the left are on the skids. That’s a big part of why Macron won in France. If he delivers, it’ll point the new direction.
Europe seems to be containing the fever of resurgent nationalism that propelled last year’s Brexit vote as well as Donald Trump’s improbable election here. Emmanuel Macron’s landslide victory over Marine Le Pen in France’s presidential election is just the latest sign that continental Europe isn’t catching the populist bug.
Not yet, anyway. Nativist and illiberal nationalist movements continue to make headway in many democratic countries. They could break through and take power—as they did in the United States last November—if mainstream parties can’t channel popular grievances toward constructive change.
As populists push political debate to the right, however, center-left parties are floundering on both sides of the Atlantic. Yoked to stale ideas and change-averse constituencies, they are failing to offer restive voters a radically pragmatic alternative to populist panaceas like cutting off immigration, seceding from the global economy and reverting to zero-sum nationalism.
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