In City-Country Imbalance, Don’t Focus Only on the Left Behind

View of the Plaça de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain, June 23, 2014
View of the Plaça de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain, June 23, 2014 (Pixabay/Elena Repina)

Janan Ganesh warns in the Financial Times against looking at the city-countryside imbalance exclusively through the lens of the places that have been left behind.

As a moral proposition, this is right, he argues: “the weakest first.” But as a reading of how politics will unfold over time, it could be the wrong way around:

The anger that poor regions feel for the rampant metropolis — that Pas-de-Calais feels for Paris, that Indiana feels for New York — might turn out to weigh less than the grievances that flow in the opposite direction.

City dwellers may at some point decide they have had enough of subsidizing provincials who vote against their heathen ways from a distance. “Call it representation without taxation.” Read more

Globalization Boosts Some Regions, Marginalizes Others

The skyline of Detroit, Michigan, July 18, 2009
The skyline of Detroit, Michigan, July 18, 2009 (Michael Kumm)

The Economist reports that globalization has marginalized once thriving industrial areas, such as Scranton, Pennsylvania, Teesside in the United Kingdom and France’s Pas-de-Calais.

It is no coincidence that Donald Trump, Brexit and Marine Le Pen got some of their highest vote shares in those regions. Read more

Election Reveals Brexit- and Trump-Like Cleavages in Germany

A far-right demonstration in Leipzig, Germany, September 22
A far-right demonstration in Leipzig, Germany, September 22 (De Havilland)

Germany’s federal election revealed many of the same cleavages we have seen in America, Britain and France, Alexander Roth and Guntram B. Wolff report for the Bruegel think tank:

  • Urban-rural split: Support for the far-right Alternative for Germany party was low in the cities but high in the countryside.
  • Old versus young: Districts with a higher share of elderly voters were more supportive of the Alternative.
  • Education: There is a strong correlation here. The better educated Germans are, the less likely they were to vote for the Alternative.
  • Income: Higher disposable household income is associated with lower support for the Alternative, however, areas with high unemployment were also less likely to vote for the far right. Read more

Germany’s Social Democrats Should Have Picked Side

German Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz makes a speech in Bavaria, March 1
German Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz makes a speech in Bavaria, March 1 (Bayern SPD/Joerg Koch)

Germany’s Social Democrats are going the way of the Dutch Labor Party.

Both parties tried to appeal to their working- and middle-class constituents in elections this year and both lost precisely because of this indecision.

Campaigning on liberal immigration laws, social justice and international engagement alienates blue-collar voters.

Campaigning on border controls and deemphasizing identity politics turns away college graduates.

Do both at the same time and you end up with with no supporters at all. Read more

DUP Pact Makes It Harder for May to Win Back Middle England

British prime minister Theresa May answers questions in the House of Commons in London, England, July 20, 2016
British prime minister Theresa May answers questions in the House of Commons in London, England, July 20, 2016 (UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor)

The compromise British prime minister Theresa May has hashed out with Northern Ireland’s unionist party to stay in power could make it even harder for her Conservatives to win back the trust of Middle England.

May didn’t have much of a choice. No other party was willing to prop up her minority government, which is nine seats short in the House of Commons.

But the pact with the hardline Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which hasn’t updated its social views since the 1980s, compounds the mistake May made in calling an early election. Read more

Election Exacerbates Britain’s Blue-Red Divide

A woman looks out over the skyline of London, England, May 13, 2014
A woman looks out over the skyline of London, England, May 13, 2014 (Ray Wewerka)

Britain’s general election result confirms that the political divide in the country has shifted from the traditional left versus right to what I call “blue” versus “red”. Read more

French Presidential Election Reveals a Divided Nation

The Avenue des Champs-Élysées in downtown Paris, France in early evening, March 13, 2011 (Flickr/Aeror)
The Avenue des Champs-Élysées in downtown Paris, France in early evening, March 13, 2011 (Flickr/Aeror)

The first round of the French presidential election on Sunday laid bare many of the same cleavages that have opened up in other Western democracies recently.

Emmanuel Macron, the centrist former economy minister and the favorite to prevail in the second voting round in May, drew most of his support from the big cities and the prosperous west of the country.

Marine Le Pen, the leader of the nativist National Front, came in second overall but placed first across the economically depressed north of France and in the socially conservative southeast. Read more