The past week has seen the leaders of the three most important European states fighting for their political lives. In London, Prime Minister Theresa May struggles to hold power as opinion in Parliament moves against her Brexit agreement. In Paris, a firestorm of public rage has humbled President Emmanuel Macron and forced him into an undignified retreat before street protests he previously vowed to ignore. Even Berlin experienced its share of political drama as Chancellor Angela Merkel officially stepped down under pressure as leader of the Christian Democratic Union. Her preferred successor was able to eke out only a narrow win over anti-Merkel challengers.
The turbulence in these countries, pillars of European and indeed world order, isn’t just about particular leaders. Their entire political systems have come under strain. In the U.K., even before the Brexit referendum, the rise of the Scottish National Party and Jeremy Corbyn’s victory over the moderate wing of the Labour Party had already transformed the political system. In France, Mr. Macron came to power as the existing party system imploded. In Germany, the antiestablishment Left and Alternative for Germany parties have been steadily gaining strength as centrist parties falter in the polls.
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