Everyone knows that populism has fundamentally altered the rules of Western politics. But no one has deduced what the new rules are.
The result is that politicians and observers enter each election, whether they know it or not, merely guessing. Miscalculations and surprises have become the new normal.
That has been most pronounced in Britain, where politics are playing out along an issue, “Brexit,” that has nearly 50-50 support, so that even slight miscalculations can swing elections, with global consequences. But the phenomenon extends across Western democracies.
Voters are not waiting for scholars to understand their changing behavior, and neither can politicians. As leaders try to reckon with forces they cannot fully comprehend, uncertainty and volatility are, for now, built into the system.
Max Fisher and Amanda Taub, “Why Populism Is So Difficult to Predict”, The New York Times (11 June 2017), Y16.