Bloomberg explores populist politics:
Populists on the left, populists on the right, there just aren’t many populists in power.
Partly that’s because establishment parties in the U.S. and Europe have proven surprisingly resilient in the wake of the global financial crisis, deflecting challengers like the Occupy Wall Street movement and the U.K. Independence Party.
Partly it’s because political insurgencies have learned that governing isn’t their thing, that it’s better to carp than to sacrifice ideological purity and succumb to the compromises associated with actually running a country.
“The center has held pretty well,” said Cas Mudde, associate professor at the School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Georgia in Athens who studies extremist movements. “It’s the first real crisis of the European Union. In the U.S. it’s completely unlikely that an anti-establishment party as such gets into power.”
The next disputant is Jeremy Corbyn, newly installed leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party, who wants to return to the days of nationalizations, pump-priming and nuclear disarmament. Dire warnings of a Labour split — and predictions of continued success for the governing Conservatives — accompanied Corbyn’s ascension on Sept. 12.
Higher decibel levels at both ends of the political spectrum have left a silent majority in the center, yielding what some hail as stability and others revile as gridlock. The upshot: there’s little to shake the developed world’s consensus in favor of prudent budget and monetary policies, providing a predictable backdrop for markets.
While the U.S. has its claimants to the outsider mantle — just look at the Republican presidential field — the EU is a busier laboratory of political experimentation because, with 28 countries, elections there happen more often. Every few months, someone is going to the polls, and usually a coalition representing the broad middle results.
The mainstream’s latest triumph came over the weekend in debt-plagued Greece. Shorn of its communist-tinted faction, Alexis Tsipras’s Syriza party won a second term vowing to administer the harsh economic medicine that he denounced as recently as three months ago.
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