Swing to the right slowing? Hints of a change on the wind

Picture: AP

Anyone steadfast enough to cling to the belief that liberal, live-and-let-live democracy committed to social justice remains the very best way to order our affairs need not look very far to see reasons to despair. 

However, in the circular nature of these things, there are reasons to be cheerful too. 

The peace and spreading prosperity enjoyed by Europe for seven decades are the headline arguments for this kind of government, even if there are failures too. 

Any celebration of those values brings questions about whether they are deeply and widely enough held to endure in the face of growing neo-nativism, insularity, and the resurgence of a fearful, insecure nationalism, the kind history warns us invariably leads to confrontation. 

Political disengagement is a force in this dispiriting equation too, though recent voter participations suggest that indulgence may have had its day.

When US President Donald Trump launched his campaign to be re-elected last week, his mixture of bile, contrived grievance, and undisguised dishonesty did not have a negative impact. 

Indeed, his constituency was reinvigorated by his contempt for what are, rightly or wrongly, regarded as acceptable standards of political campaigning in a liberal democracy — which presumably one half of America still imagines itself. 

He has set the tone for a toxic campaign that will divide America as Brexit has split Britain. 

All the while, he ratchets up the pressure on the Democrats to unite behind the candidate best placed to make him a one-term president. 

The liberal world can only look on and hope they understand the importance of that task and hope they are equal to it.

On this side of the Atlantic, there seems to be a growing number of British Conservatives who accept Boris Johnson is unequal to the task of leading his country through the Brexit swamp so they might reach the sunlit uplands promised in 2016. 

Johnson will wonder, and not without some legitimacy, why his personal life might trip him up while similar adventures are almost a badge of honour among Trump loyalists. 

It is too early to hope that Johnson might not be even a one-term prime minister, but his prospects are not in any way as assured as they were. Hubris, dear boy, hubris.

Just as Britain struggles to identify a new leader, so too does the European Commission. 

Swing to the right slowing? Hints of a change on the wind

The incoming Commission, if it is to champion one of the EU’s stated objectives — the advancement of democracy — must pick up a gauntlet their predecessors studiously avoided. 

Hungary’s Viktor Orbán’s drive to create an illiberal state continues apace. 

That erosion constitutes “the most dramatic decline ever charted” in EU democracy, according to Washington think-tank, Freedom House. 

That this regression is supported by EU funding and chaperoned by Polish collusion is not acceptable. 

The list of those undermining democracy is long, but it too eventually ends. 

The weekend election in Istanbul may be the first indication that Turkey has had enough of President Recep Erdogan’s conservatism. 

The liberal Ekrem Imamoglu won a re-run in a landslide suggesting that the age-old power of popular campaigning allied to a just cause is as powerful as ever. 

Those who oppose the swing to the right can take heart.

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