Dysfunctional Democracy and Referenda: The Case of Brexit

Nigel Farage, leader of Britain's UKIP party, in front of a 'Grassroots Out' banner, London, March 31, 2016 (AP photo by Kirsty Wigglesworth).
Nigel Farage, leader of Britain's UKIP party, in front of a 'Grassroots Out' banner, London, March 31, 2016 (AP photo by Kirsty Wigglesworth).
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The current era of democratic politics in the West is marked by dysfunction. Long-standing political institutions are creaking. The establishment consensus of free trade, economic openness and liberal migration policies that has buttressed the U.S.-led postwar liberal system is quickly losing its popular legitimacy. Since the late 1980s, electoral turnout has fallen in much of Europe; the joint vote share of center-right and center-left parties is hitting all-time lows; and various populist and anti-establishment parties have filled the void with the promise of easy solutions. At a time when the European Union is heavily criticized for being run by unelected […]

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