Keir Starmer, Parliament, March 6, 2024
Keir Starmer, MP for Holborn and St Pancras, speaking before Parliament on March 6, 2024. Photo credit: Maria Unger / UK Parliament / Wikimedia (CC BY 3.0 DEED)

Across the globe, it's bad to be the ruling party right now. Everybody seems to be unhappy. But why?

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There has been a lot of talk recently about a sharp shift to the right in recent months. On Sunday, the right-wing National Rally party came out ahead in the first round of France’s snap election, the Alternative for Germany did shockingly well in last month’s European Union election (and even swept the five eastern states), a party with fascist roots is governing in Italy, and Donald Trump seems poised to defeat Joe Biden in the US.

All of this seems to be evidence that people in some of the world’s biggest economies want more conservative governments.

But how does the UK fit into that picture?

On Thursday, the left-of-center Labour Party absolutely crushed the conservative Tories, and its leader Keir Starmer will become prime minister.

“Crushed” doesn’t even do justice to how thoroughly the Conservative Party was demolished.

According to exit polls, Labour is going to win 410 seats in parliament… out of 650.

That means the party is projected to have 170 seats more than all other parties combined.

The governing Tories, on the other hand, are expected to win about 130 seats.

Translating those results to the United States, it would be as though the Democrats were to win 75 Senate seats.

But what about that rightward shift?

Well, maybe it’s not about ideology at all but rather about general dissatisfaction.

Isn’t it possible that, across the globe, people are so unhappy with how things are going that they are simply looking for change?

And maybe the problems facing countries everywhere are so great that none of the governing parties can solve them.

In India, for example, the party of nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi failed to win a majority in that country’s parliament earlier this year.

And Poland’s ruling right-wing party lost its election last October.

There are two large economies that are bucking this trend: China and Russia. Of course, they don’t really have elections or voters, so they don’t count.

If it is the case that people are simply dissatisfied with whoever holds power, what does that say about where we are going? And, if everybody feels that way, then who is happy?

Here is a potential clue: Stock markets across the globe are hitting record highs this week.

Both during the pandemic and since then, the rich and corporations thrive while everybody else feels as though they are getting left behind.

But it’s not just about a widening wealth gap in individual countries; it is also about global inequality that is causing millions of people from Africa and South America to migrate to wealthier nations.

And when they get there, they are viewed with suspicion, which helps nationalist and populist parties.

What Labour does in the UK will go a long way toward testing that theory. The majority of Starmer’s party is so big that he can institute some radical changes… and perhaps even make those billionaires and corporations pay for them.


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