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PS25
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English

Saving the Center

To commemorate its founding 25 years ago, PS is republishing a selection of commentaries written since 1994. In the following commentary, Tony Blair argued that only a strong and revitalized centrist politics could defeat today’s populist surge.

LONDON – There is no doubt about the waves of discontent and anger sweeping Western politics. The United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union after four decades of membership, jeopardizing all the intricate trading and political connections that such a long relationship created. Against all forecasts by political pundits, Donald Trump won the United States presidency, something the political class thought virtually inconceivable. Throughout Europe, new political parties are springing up, all based on variations on the same theme: the political establishment has ignored us, and we will throw them out in protest.

One defining feature of this uprising is that the impetus for change has become more important than any consideration of what change might mean in practice. The things said by leaders riding this wave can be wildly out of kilter with normal rules of political conduct; but none of it matters. What matters is that the revolt is happening, and whoever happens to catch the wave will be borne aloft.

By contrast, politicians who make reasoned arguments of a conventional kind merely irritate rebellious voters, arousing impetuous dismissal, if not contempt and derision.

25 years of the World's Opinion Page

Project Syndicate celebrates its 25th anniversary with PS 25, a collection of our hardest-hitting commentaries so far.

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Project Syndicate celebrates its 25th anniversary with PS 25, a collection of our hardest-hitting commentaries so far.

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  1. mahroum18_HAIDAR HAMDANIAFP via Getty Images_iraqprotestfire Haidar Hamdani/AFP via Getty Images

    The Arab World Needs a Brexit Debate

    Sami Mahroum

    The Arab world has witnessed at least one big Brexit-like event every decade since 1948 – and these political, economic, and social ruptures never seem to heal. The impact of these self-inflicted disasters is now painfully evident, and ongoing street protests in several countries suggest that a moment of reckoning may have arrived.

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  2. lhatheway7_Claudio Santistebanpicture alliance via Getty Images_ECBFedLagardePowell Claudio Santisteban/picture alliance via Getty Images

    Restoring Central Banks’ Credibility

    Larry Hatheway

    The old central-bank playbook of slashing interest rates to spur consumption, investment, and employment has become less effective since the 2008 financial crisis. Yet without effective tools and the public's confidence, central banks will be unable to rise to the occasion when the next recession arrives.

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  3. fischer163_action press-PoolGetty Images_natoflagsoldiers Action Press-Pool/Getty Images

    The Day After NATO

    Joschka Fischer

    French President Emmanuel Macron has drawn criticism for describing NATO as brain dead and pursuing a rapprochement with Russian President Vladimir Putin. But now that a wayward America could abandon the continent at any moment, Macron's argument for European defense autonomy is difficult to refute.

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