Financial TimesFinancial Times

Western democracies have a talent problem

By Janan Ganesh

3 min read

Rishi Sunak does politics as though he is just back from a residential course called How to Do Politics. There is something rote-learnt about the gestures of hand and speech. There is something formulaic about the tactics: now woo the right, now pivot. In a thriving democracy, he would be a good Downing Street chief of staff with a hawk’s eye for a vacant parliamentary seat.

As it is, the former UK chancellor is plainly the best candidate for prime minister in a dire Conservative field. By all means, deplore the lack of competition in Westminster as he rose in recent years. But don’t assume that it would have been much stiffer elsewhere. In the US, the two most senior Democrats are a pensioner and his maladroit vice-president. The last German election pitted Olaf Scholz against Armin Laschet in a pageant of nondescriptness. None of the last six Australian premiers have impressed enough to log four years in office. For the second time in a decade, Italy has a globocrat called Mario corralling a domestic political class that lacks stature.

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