Time of Trouble

The fear and loathing permeating democratic electorates is worldwide. Trumpism or its rough analogue is not just an America phenomenon – it is everywhere.

We see in places other than our own that the people are pissed. We see in places other than our own that democracy is being stretched. We see in places other than our own that leaders associated with establishments are in trouble. We see in places other than our own that the time of trouble is affecting not only leaders in the public sector, but in the private and nonprofit ones as well. We see in places other than our own that threats – real or perceived – such as climate change, immigration, terrorism, and economic uncertainty are driving people nuts.  We see in places other than our own that the system of liberalism we say we hold dear feels feeble.

Two days ago I wrote about the Philippines. Today I write about Austria. Austria – which, like several of its European counterparts, such as Poland and Hungary, just took a turn to the hard right.

In last month’s presidential elections, Austria’s governing party, the Social Democrats, suffered a stinging defeat in comparison with the stunning success of the right wing, anti-free trade, anti-immigrant Freedom Party.  In direct consequence, on Monday Austria’s Chancellor, Werner Faymann, resigned. The reason he gave was the lack of confidence – the lack of confidence in his capacity to lead. “The question was thus,” Faymann said, “Did I have the full support of a strong backing from the party? I have to answer in the negative.”

What happens in Austria seems to most Americans not of utmost importance. But, it is. For what is happening in Austria is happening in much of the rest of Europe (see under Denmark). And it is happening in the United States as well. The end of leadership as we have known it? Not yet. Stay tuned.

 

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