The overarching themes on the global scene in 2017 have been Brexit in the UK and the election of Donald Trump on a wave of populism in the US — both unexpected and both against a new global movement towards more open borders, inclusivity and globalisation.

The world has been watching in astonishment as these two traditionally leading western countries turned on themselves.

Deep divisions in their respective societies surfaced again; both are abdicating their important global roles, making their worlds smaller and diminishing their spheres of influence on the global stage.

Germany’s Angela Merkel became the de facto leader of the so-called free world, while China and Russia are already positioning themselves to step into the void created by the withdrawal of two important global players.

The world order is being reshaped at a breathtaking speed, mainly by default.

In the UK former prime minister Tony Blair is openly campaigning in a desperate bid to undo the disastrous Brexit decision, while the Senate judiciary committee is working towards impeaching Trump.

The main causes of these two calamities were the apathy of younger voters who had lost trust and interest in politics and opportunistic politicians riding the populist wave, mainly in reaction to a recent increase in migration caused by wars and natural disasters.

The most positive development flowing from this is the realisation among young voters across Europe, the US and other parts of the world that they have to take control of their future.

This was most visible in France, where young people volunteered to work for Emmanuel Macron’s campaign, and in the Netherlands, where Jesse Klaver, the young leader of the Green Party, made spectacular gains in that country’s last election.

The younger generation is finding its political voices, and stepping up to the plate.

Politics, especially in western countries, is undergoing a facelift in reaction to the older generation’s mistakes. Brexit and Trump may be just what the doctor ordered to bring younger blood and fresh new thoughts to a sick and ageing patient.

Dawie JacobsPretoria

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