Populism faces its darkest hour

But as its right-wing variant flags, the left-wing version could surge

In 2016, the votes for Brexit and Mr Donald Trump stunned the political establishments in Britain and the United States. But 2019 stands a good chance of being the year that the populist project crumbles into incoherence, as it becomes increasingly clear that bad ideas have bad consequences.

The optimistic claims made for Brexit in 2016 have already collapsed. British Prime Minister Theresa May's deal with the European Union has been denounced as a betrayal by most of the erstwhile leaders of the Leave campaign. But a "no-deal" Brexit, which many Leavers now advocate, threatens to bring hardship and humiliation in its wake while a decision to hold a second referendum would be an even starker retreat from the peak populism of three years ago.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 09, 2019, with the headline 'Populism faces its darkest hour'. Print Edition | Subscribe