Liberal democracies have less legitimacy than at any time since World War II, and most of their structural problems don’t appear fixable. Today’s strongest leaders show little interest in civil society or common values, according to the Eurasia Group’s Top Risks 2018 Report.
“An increasingly toxic antiestablishment sentiment is starting to erode the legitimacy of political institutions in established democracies,” it adds, creating a “geopolitical depression” across the liberal democracies.
“Last year, we wrote that the world was entering a period of geopolitical recession. After nearly a decade of a slowly destabilizing G-Zero framework, the election of Donald Trump as US president has accelerated the descent into a Hobbesian state of international politics,” write Ian Bremmer and Cliff Kupchan, the group’s president and chairman, respectively. “The world is now closer to geopolitical depression than to a reversion to past stability.”
The threat is compounded by the challenge of the China Model, they suggest.
“For most of the West, China is not an appealing substitute. But for most everybody else, it is a plausible alternative,” Bremmer and Kupchan insist:
Xi’s growing assertiveness risks negative effects at home and creates a long-term threat to the Chinese model. He is taking a risk by tightening the party’s control of the country’s private sector, by inserting party controls at the top of private Chinese companies as well as Chinese subsidiaries of foreign multinationals. The risks to corporate decision-making and asset valuations are clear, and they could affect the long-term economic trajectory of both China and its imitators. Still, since 2008, we’ve seen a gradual erosion in global perceptions of the attractiveness of Western liberal democracies. There is now a viable alternative. …. And with Xi ready and willing to offer that alternative and extend China’s influence, that’s the world’s biggest risk this year.