"Presidents and prime ministers are discovering that the old levers of power no longer work. Promises are broken not through malign intent but because the capacity of individual nations to act has been constrained. The connection here is not with the weakness of democracy; nor with the EU or immigrants. The culprit, if you can call it that, is globalisation. The political mega-trend of recent decades has been the diffusion of power – from states to other actors and from old elites to citizens. Economic interdependence and borderless communications leave governments to compete with multinationals, with a proliferation of non-state organisations, and with religious and ethnic identities that have no respect for national borders. Closer to home, the digital revolution gives a louder voice to those once shut out of political debate. This is fertile ground for the politics of grievance. It explains the paradox of the rise of nationalism in a world where nations are weaker. The appeal of the populists lies in their dishonest promise to stop the world and jump off."
Philip Stephens, "Do not blame democracy for the rise of the populists" (Financial Times [online], 9.5.2013).