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The vital center is imploding throughout the Western world. Liberal norms and institutions face a greater challenge than at any time since the end of the Second World War. And so defenders of the liberal order seek, often desperately, to remind themselves of what principles they stand for and the premises that underlie their deepest political and moral convictions.
That's what I take Molly Worthen to be doing in her recent, admirable essay in The New York Times.
Another political earthquake out of Europe!
This time, the tremor rattled Italy. The country's dashing young prime minister, Matteo Renzi, has resigned after putting a change to the Constitution up for a referendum vote, and getting smacked down. With voter turnout at around 70 percent, 59 percent of the vote was against his referendum, which was intended to streamline government.
If Renzi is the big loser here, the country's populist parties are the big winners.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls resigned on Tuesday to mount a bid for the Socialist presidential nomination, and President Francois Hollande replaced him with Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve. Valls will face at least seven rivals in the Socialist primary, and if he wins, he will compete against Republican nominee Francois Fillon and Marine LePen of the far-right National Front.