Charismatic politicians entice disillusioned people into giving them support. Some of those politicians are would-be despots. Others are scoundrels. Yet their siren songs are enticing. How then should politicians of the centre right and centre left and those who support them respond? They must recognise they are in for a huge fight. A massive financial crisis, with a bitter aftertaste, undermined confidence in almost all elites. Moreover, as Jonathan Swift wrote, “Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it.” What would Swift have made of our media? Yet liberal democracy survived the great challenges of the interwar years and the cold war. As Torben Iversen and David Soskice argue in Democracy and Prosperity, the stabiliser is widely shared prosperity. Without that, all is lost, especially when belief in democracy has waned. So how is hope to be renewed? First, leadership matters. Democratic politics is not just about buying votes. It is about persuading people. Donald Trump m...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, ProfileData financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Times Select.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00. Got a subscription voucher? Redeem it now