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A Dark Age for European Democracy?

How the Political Center Will Fare in 2017

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of Poland's Law and Justice party, speaks in Warsaw, December 2015. Kacper Pempel / REUTERS

On November 17, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. President Barack Obama published an article in the German magazine WirtschaftsWoche, outlining their countries’ shared commitments to the values of individual freedom, democracy, and the rule of law; collective defense through the NATO alliance; and international cooperation on issues from refugee policy to climate change mitigation. Their essay served as a reminder of the values that have been at the heart of the transatlantic alliance of liberal democracies for decades.

In recent months, nationalists and populists have challenged those values on both sides of the Atlantic. In June, the United Kingdom's vote to leave the European Union gave populists their first major win of the year. Then, last month, the election of Donald J. Trump to the U.S. presidency placed a candidate who had demonstrated disdain for democratic values such as the freedom of the press, the independence of the

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